Frequently Asked Questions
We often receive enquiries from our customers about a whole range of things related to rates. These have been used to develop the list of FAQs below, which we hope will answer your questions.
Why do we have to pay council rates?
Councils help local communities run smoothly. They administer various laws and regulations to help maintain and improve services and facilities for the community – things you probably rarely think about, but you’d miss them if they weren’t there.
These services include community services, sporting and recreation services, road construction and repairs, environmental planning, public health, environmental protection, waste collection, treatment and disposal, water and sewer.
When are my rates due?
Rates and charges can be paid annually by 31 August or in quarterly instalments before:
- 31 August (except in FY 2020/21 where the date has been extended due to COVID-19 to fall due on 30 September)
- 30 November
- 28 February
- 31 May
Where these dates fall on a weekend the due date will be the following Monday. For people opting to pay quarterly, we will send an instalment reminder at least 30 days before each due date.
How do I read my rate notice?
Your rate notice outlines information relating to your property that we use for rating purposes, and details the charges that are payable. It is important to understand what the information means, how your rates are calculated, when your instalments are due, and how payments can be made.
We have prepared a quick guide, 'How to read your rate notice'(PDF, 931KB) which will help you understand the various line items shown on your rate notice.
Am I entitled to a Pensioner rebate?
Under State legislation, some pensioners are eligible for mandatory rebates. A maximum of $250 is available each year on all ordinary rates and domestic waste management charges. People who become, or cease to be, eligible pensioners during the year will receive a concession proportionate to the number of full quarters in which they are an eligible pensioner.
To be eligible:
- you must be a pensioner with a current Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) or a Veterans Affairs TPI or EDA gold card, and
- the property must be your sole or principal place of residence, and
- you must own the property or be legally liable to pay the rates on the property.
War Widow Pensioners who do not hold a Pensioner Concession card may be entitled to a concession provided they meet an income and assets test. Click here for more information and to apply.
What can I do if I'm having difficulty paying my rates?
If you are experiencing difficulty in paying your rates by the due dates, you should contact our Rates Team on 7955 7777 as soon as possible, preferably before the account becomes overdue. They will discuss alternative payment arrangements that are available to suit your current situation.
Note - additional rate relief measures are currently in place for people adversely impacted by COVID-19. Click here for more information and to apply.
What happens if I don't pay my rates?
Daily interest is usually charged at around 7% on all overdue amounts (except during the period 1/7/20 - 31/12/20 when interest on overdue amounts will be waived as part of our COVID-19 relief measures). If you are not under financial hardship and don't make an arrangement or pay by the due date, we may send the debt to a debt collection agency and you may incur legal costs. After 5 years of non-payment Council may sell property by public auction.
Can I get my rates notices via email?
Yes! Opting to receive electronic rates notices is not only convenient, it saves valuable rate-payer dollars, and it's good for the environment. Click here to find out more and register.
Note - once you have registered for emailed rates notices, you'll no longer receive hard copies in the mail.
How can I update my postal address?
Unless you have opted to receive your annual and quarterly rate notices by email, they will be posted to your nominated address. If your current postal address is different from the address shown on the rate notice, please use the online Change of Address Application Form.
Please note - We cannot process change of address requests over the phone.
How are rates calculated?
Rates are a primary source of income for council. The Ordinary Rate payable on a property is determined by the category of the land, the valuation of the land and the Base Rate and Ad Valorum rate adopted by council.
Each property falls into one of 4 categories for rating purposes, dependent on the actual use of the property:
Taking property categorisation into account, our rating structure consists of 2 parts:
- base amount - a flat amount common to all properties within a category
- ad valorem component - an amount calculated on the land value of your property
Over and above these amounts, you may also see on your rates notice:
- a waste charge, which pays for collection of your kerbside bins
- a stormwater management charge, which helps us maintain and improve flood and stormwater infrastructure
Click here for a more detailed outline of how your rates are calculated.
What is rate harmonisation?
We are currently working towards a single rates structure across the MidCoast Council region, to replace the three different rating systems of the former Council areas - or in other words harmonising our rating structure so it applies consistently across the region.
Rates harmonisation is a requirement of the NSW Government for all merged councils and must be in place for the 2021/22 financial year. Harmonising our rates structure does not change the total amount of rates income we generate. What it does mean is a consistent, simpler and more equitable distribution of the total amount across the entire region. Find out more and stay updated here.
Does land revaluation impact my rates?
The NSW Valuer General's Office determines land values at least every three years, but a change in the value of your land does not automatically mean a change in the amount of rates you are charged.
Land valuations do not affect the total amount of rates we can collect - this is regulated by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), but they can play a role in how the total amount is distributed among property-owners.
Click here for more information.
What is rate pegging?
Each year the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) sets the maximum amount that councils can increase their overall income from rates. This is called the rate peg. It does not apply to the waste or stormwater parts of your rates bill.
The exception to this is when permission is granted by IPART for a special rate variation. In FY2020/21, MidCoast Council is in its final year of a 5% special rate variation specifically for improvements to the region's transport network. When a special rate variation increase is approved by IPART it is inclusive of the set rate peg increase, not in addition to it.
You can read more about how rate pegging works on IPART's website.
Why do I receive a separate water bill each quarter?
Not all properties in our region are connected to the water and sewer service. Those that are will receive a separate set of fees and charges, specifically relating to connection and water usage.
We have continued to bill these charges separately from your ordinary council rates to reduce the burden on rate-payers, spreading the total costs out across the year.
Click here to find out more about these charges.