MAV bulletin - issue 914
Differential rates discussion paper and draft Ministerial Guidelines
The Victorian Government has released a discussion paper and draft Ministerial Guidelines on differential rates. Under recent changes to the Local Government Act 1989, the Minister for Local Government can introduce guidelines that councils must consider when striking differential rates. The legislation also provides the Minister with the power to advise the Governor in Council to disallow a differential rate used by councils that she believes is inconsistent with the guidelines.
The discussion paper and guidelines have now been released for public consultation until 28 February, and will cause a significant change in the differential rates used by councils if they are adopted in their current form.
The guidelines will require councils to strike their differential rates based on tertiary level categories in the Australian Valuation Property Classification Codes, which means that the following differential categories will be available to councils: residential; primary production; commercial; community services; sport, heritage and culture; industrial; extractive industries; and infrastructure and utilities. The draft guidelines also make allowances for councils to strike differential rates for vacant land and retirement villages, as well as retaining the differential rating categories for councils that use the net annual value valuation method.
Among current differential rates that would appear to be contrary to the guidelines are: electronic gaming machines; the petroleum industry; the automotive industry; late night venues; irrigated farms; the urban growth boundary; and differential rates based on a property's geographic location. This would result in significant revision of councils’ rating strategies upon implementation.
The MAV will be preparing a submission on behalf of councils, and also strongly recommends that councils provide their own submission. Please provide any comments about the draft guidelines to Owen Harvey-Beavis.
MAV web workshops
The MAV will be holding workshops in March and April for council staff who are involved in writing, editing or managing content for the web.
Writing for the Web, on 14 March, will help participants write, edit and present better web content. Attendees will learn how to write useful content; make it easier for people to find information; lay out content for scan-reading; and ensure web content is accessible for everyone.
The web accessibility workshop on 18 April will take participants through the ins and outs of accessibility, PDFs and the web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Attendees will learn how to create web content – including copy, structure, images and navigation – that meets WCAG 2.0 requirements.
Both presented by Dey Alexander, an expert in usability, accessibility and writing, the workshops promise to be relevant to staff of all experience levels.
Council dam survey and dam safety screening tool
MAV Insurance is continuing to work with the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) to assist dam-owning councils. Councils are reminded that MAV Insurance is currently surveying councils about dam safety and councils’ use of the dam-owner toolkit. So far, 13 councils have responded. The survey is due back on 31 January.
The DSE has also recently revised its dam safety screening tool (also referred to as the dam safety hazard rating tool). Copies of the screening tool and council dam survey are available from MAV Insurance.
For further information contact James Cleaver on 9667 5519.
Infrastructure funding to improve community safety
There are still a few weeks left for councils to apply for up to $250 000 in infrastructure funding.
Applications close for the Victorian Government’s Public Safety Infrastructure Fund grants at 5 pm on 22 February.
The grants provide funding for infrastructure projects that improve community safety, security and confidence in public places. This can include lighting systems, other physical security or safety measures, streetscape and amenity improvements, and public place CCTV systems.
Applications must be submitted online and late applications will not be accepted.
Publication of Waste and Recycling in Australia report
The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has released Waste and Recycling in Australia 2011.
The report provides baseline data about Australia’s national performance on waste generation, landfill disposal and recovery of resources and materials, to help inform public and private sector decision-making about waste.
Key findings from the report include:
- waste generated in Australia continued to grow between 2006–07 and 2008–09
- waste generation per capita was 2 140kg in 2008–09
- Australia’s national recycling rate was 51 per cent, with 1 090kg of materials recycled per capita.
Dr Karen Lee speaks on spatial design, health and wellbeing
Spatial design can significantly improve health and wellbeing, and prevent chronic disease.
Dr Karen Lee currently leads the New York City Health Department’s implementation of its Active Design Guidelines through a partnership of NYC agencies. Her work also provides support to the Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) tax and zoning incentive initiative to promote supermarket development in under-served neighbourhoods in NYC.
Dr Lee will present at a number of seminars in Melbourne on 4 and 5 February. Although the MAV’s event is fully booked, details for alternative events are available online.
Plan to celebrate cultural diversity in March
It’s time for councils to start planning their events to mark Victoria’s Cultural Diversity Week, which will take place from 16 to 24 March. The week also incorporates national Harmony Day and the national A Taste of Harmony campaign, which encourages colleagues and co-workers to celebrate cultural diversity in their workplaces. Free promotional materials will be accessible shortly to support councils’ activities.
Inaugural Migration and Settlement Awards
Nominations are open for the Migration and Settlement Awards. Administered by the Migration Council Australia, the awards recognise the good work of councils and other organisations that assist new migrants and refugees to settle, feel included and to participate.
The awards will showcase the best these organisations have to offer, promote innovative ideas and highlight individual excellence. Nominations close at 5 pm on Friday 8 February. Winners will be announced at a Gala Dinner, to be held at Parliament House on 18 March.
Summer litter campaign launched
A new campaign urging Victorians to report litterers has been launched to help reduce litter on our streets, beaches and roadsides.
The “A cleaner Victoria is in your hands” campaign, a joint initiative by the Environment Protection Authority and Sustainability Victoria, aims to help combat littering which costs the community $78 million a year to clean up.
Every year around 14 560 tonnes of litter is generated across the state, almost three kilograms of litter for every Victorian.
The campaign will run statewide until the end of March, educating Victorians about the impact of litter on water and land.
Other recent Victorian Government initiatives to reduce litter include doubling fines for a lit cigarette; the release of the Victorian Litter Strategy; and more than $1.3 million being made available to help organisations educate communities and install infrastructure that makes it easier to dispose of litter.
Excellence in local government leadership program
The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG), along with the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) are running the next Excellence in Local Government Leadership Program in Canberra from 18 to 23 March. Enrolments close shortly.
Aimed at CEOs, senior elected representatives and executives, the brochure boasts national and international academics and practitioners. Participants can expect to gain:
- an enhanced understanding of the interplay between the political, policy, demographic and social contexts facing councils
- access to frameworks designed to improve complex problems
- greater understanding of the dynamic between national, state and local government
- explore emerging issues that affect local government, and
- be exposed to the best academics, practitioners and innovations.
The cost of the 2013 program is $4 990 (ex GST), which covers tuition, materials, accommodation and meals. Scholarships are available. Anyone interested in applying must complete the application form.
National Awards for Local Government applications open
Applications for the 2013 National Awards for Local Government (NALG) have opened. These awards recognise and highlight some of the efforts of individuals within councils.
Applications for the Awards address specific selection criteria and proceed through a two-stage judging process which culminates with the finalists receiving the National Award for Excellence in June.
Key dates are listed below:
|Entries close||15 February|
|Category judging||Late February to mid-March|
|Category winners announced||End March|
|National judging||Early May|
|Award presentation event||Mid June|
In social media news
- A new twice-weekly video message from fire service leaders about fire conditions in Victoria is being produced for sharing across government online platforms and social media channels. The videos are published every Monday and Thursday, and on high-risk fire days during the fire season. View them here.
- The Australian Open has a smashing social presence. Find out more here.
- From the US: A mobile app has been developed to find available parking in San Carlos, California. Read more here.