Section 150 of the Local Government Act 1999 states that:
"A council should, when making and adopting policies and determinations concerning rates under this Act, take into account the following principles:
- rates constitute a system of taxation for local government purposes (generally based on the value of land);
- rating policies should make reasonable provision with respect to strategies to provide relief from rates (where appropriate), and any such strategies should avoid narrow or unreasonably restrictive criteria and should not require ratepayers to meet onerous application requirements;
- the council should, in making any decision, take into account the financial effects of the decision on future generations"
This means that rates are not a fee for service but a system of taxation which should be raised on the same basis for all ratepayers, unless there is justification for differentiation!
The Local Government Association of South Australia has an excellent resource with regards to rates. It is located at http://www.lga.sa.gov.au/site/page.aspx?u=326
Council is presented each year with a Rating Discussion Paper as background for discussion of any proposed changes to Council's rating policy for the upcoming financial year.