Dear Litchfield Community Members
There has been much discussion in the community over the past few weeks about Litchfield’s future rating
system. While some members of the community may have told you that Council has already decided on
the future rating policy, that’s just not the case. Regarding the current rates notices, it is a requirement
that the Unimproved Capital Value (UCV) must be printed on your Rates Notice whether we calculate this
way or not.
Council will review the community feedback and then consider the future rating policy for Litchfield.
The current rating system has been in place since 1985 and hasn’t been comprehensively reviewed since
then. The Litchfield region has changed significantly over the last 35 years, prior to July 2008 Litchfield
was known as a shire, now we are a municipality. This means that, due to the geographical size, the density
of our population and the degree of urbanization Litchfield is classified as a municipality, not a shire
(Section 8 NT Local Government Act 2008). Accordingly, we have a responsibility to make sure that the
rating system being administered across the municipality this is still the best system for our community.
Council’s community engagement process has been fair, open and transparent. All community members
were invited to attend meetings which took place. Importantly, Council also provided the opportunity to
have balanced discussions with community members. Council does not have a position. Therefore, the
information has been presented to the community without attempting to influence you either way. It’s
unfortunate that recent community hall meetings have only provided you with one opinion and have been
designed to influence you in one direction.
It’s also unfortunate to hear that during recent community meetings, disrespectful and unfair comments
have been made regarding two highly respected individuals. One being one of Australia’s preeminent
experts in Local Government rating methodology and another being a former Local Government CEO,
both of which have provided their independent and impartial service to our engagement process. The
community have been told that these individuals have influenced the outcome to ensure that UCV is
introduced. This is both disappointing and incorrect. Council does not have a position.
Council have been through an extensive consultation process to make sure everyone in Litchfield can
have their say. I can confirm that there was information on Facebook, website, regular radio interviews,
NT Newspaper advertising, flyers on Community Noticeboards, and an article in the Rates Newsletter that
was directly mailed out to all ratepayers. Every effort has been made to inform and engage with
community members on this topic and particularly throughout the consultation process. Whilst every
effort is made, inevitably some community members might miss this information, but I can assure you
that Council will continue to promote these initiatives far and wide.
There were also 8 formal community meetings facilitated by the Litchfield Council Elected Members.
These meetings were fair, open and transparent and will help Council make a decision that is in the best
interests of our whole community – not just one group of the community. We thank the community
members who attended and engaged respectfully with Council.
However, writing to council with feedback just saying “No to UCV” is both unhelpful and demonstrates
that community members are not engaging in the discussion which limits councils understanding of the
reasoning behind their positions. Council already uses valuation based‐charges (UCV) to assess rating
categories, specifically commercial and industrial properties. This practice is nationally recognised (and
legislated) as a fair and equitable method to distribute differential rating. However, Council does not
have a position for residential properties that are currently on a fixed rate.
Litchfield Council is committed to implementing rates responsibly, strategically and accountably.
It is unfortunate that, after meeting with council and being informed of the consultation process to take
place, our local members decided to hold meetings outside of this consultation period. Information that
has been presented to you at these meetings has been misrepresented and is designed to put forward
only one side of the information.
Council supports all the residents in the municipality, including those which consider themselves rural. As
Elected Members, we have an obligation to represent and make decisions in the best interest of all the
residents that call Litchfield home.
Can I further encourage you to read the documents provided by Council regarding the rating methodology
currently in place and the proposals presented to the Council by the Community Reference Group to
inform your position and feedback for the next stage of Council’s consultation process.
We are listening. Community members will have another opportunity to provide council with feedback
on the draft Rating Policy in November 2019.
Council does not have a position
Mayor Maree Bredhauer