Councils are expected to deliver many services and to provide an acceptable level of public amenity for the benefit of the community, revenue from rates is an important component of a Councils budget. Rates are levied annually and can be paid in full or in installments at the Customer Care office, Telecom Building, 9 New Cascade Road.
Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) in regards to rates notices.
What are rates and why do we have them?
Rates are a form of income levied by Council. Their purpose is to support the Council in providing services for the benefit of the community. Revenue raised from rates will contribute to Council expenses such as:
- The upkeep of roads and public buildings
- Contributions towards tourism
- Maintenance of public areas, including picnic areas, sports fields and reserves
Rates for the 2016/2017 financial year will be a base charge.
On the 5th May 2016 amendments were made to the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW)(NI) compelling Norfolk Island to introduce an ordinary land rate consisting only of a base amount. Legislated also was the requirement that the Norfolk Island Regional Council must raise at least $500,000 from rates for the year ending 30th June 2017, and for the year ending 30th June 2018 and any later year at least $1,000,000.
Who has to pay rates?
The registered owner(s) of land on which a rate is levied are liable to pay the rate to the council. If someone other than the owner is paying the rates, then the Council has to be notified accordingly. Certain land is exempt from rates, such as land owned by the crown (excluding leased land) as well as land within a historic site and the KAVHA area.
When are my rates due?
Rates notices are posted to ratepayers, allowing 30 days before the first payment is due. Rates can be paid on the instalment date, or in full. Instalment dates which relate to payments for the 2016/2017 financial year are: 30 November 2016, 28 February 2017, 30 April 2017.
If a ratepayer fails to pay any instalment within 21 days of the date on which the rates are due, the council may require the ratepayer to pay the full amount owing.
How can I make a payment?
Methods of payment are outlined on the back of your rates notice and include:
- in person to the Customer Care Team located in the Telecom Building, 9 New Cascade Rd
- by mail to PO Box 95, Norfolk Island 2899. Cheques should be made payable to the Norfolk Island Regional Council and marked ‘Not Negotiable’
- by ringing free phone 0100 between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday with your credit card and property details (a surcharge will apply)
- by BPAY, refer to the details on your rates notice
How can I check the balance owing on my rates?
If you wish to check your rates balance, please contact Customer Care in person, or phone 0100.
Do I get a discount if I pay my rates earlier than the due date?
The Norfolk Island Regional Council does not offer a ratepayer discount at this time.
Am I eligible for a discount as a pensioner?
Yes, to be an eligible pensioner you must have:
- a Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card or
- a Department of Veteran’s Affairs Repatriation Health “Gold Card” which bears the inscription “War Widow “ or “TPI”.
A copy of the application form can be collected from the Customer Care offices, or downloaded
How will I know if my request for a pensioner rebate has been successful?
A letter will be sent to you detailing the rebate you are entitled to.
Am I able to apply for assistance if I am having trouble paying my rates?
A ratepayer who is having difficulty paying their rates should contact Council at the earliest opportunity to arrange a payment arrangement schedule that is agreeable both to the Council and the ratepayer. This is essential to avoid Council taking legal action to recover the outstanding rates.
A ratepayer may also apply to Council to defer the payment of rates on the grounds of hardship. Application forms are available from Customer Care or can be downloaded from Councils website below. Forms must be lodged with the General Manager.
Council may grant, or refuse a deferral application. Any granted deferral may be subject to the condition that the ratepayer pays interest on the amount due.
What happens if I pay after the due date?
If rates, or any one rates instalment, are not paid on or before the date they fall due, the Council will impose an annual interest rate of 8.0%, calculated daily as determined by the Local Government Act 1993, Sect 128, 1 (a).
If a ratepayer does not pay the rates on his or her property, Council may commence legal action against the ratepayer to recover the outstanding amount. If Council takes such legal action the ratepayer may also be liable for the Councils legal costs associated with the action.
What happens if I do not pay my rates notice?
If rates are not paid for a period exceeding three years, Council may sell a property or part of a property to recover the unpaid rates. Council may sell by public auction, or by direct sale.
If the owner of a property cannot be found, Council may apply to have that property transferred to the Council.
How has my land been categorised?
The Local Government Act 1993 (NSW)(NI) includes rating provisions for Norfolk Island. The Act stipulates that there are to be three rating categories applicable to Norfolk Island: Residential, Business and Farmland. Where a portion of land cannot be categorised into one of the three categories listed above, the default category is to be Business.
Definition of the categories from the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW)(NI) are as follows:
(1) Land is to be categorised as “residential” if it is a parcel of rateable land valued as one assessment and:
(a) its dominant use is for residential accommodation (other than as a hotel, motel, guest-house, backpacker hostel or nursing home or any other form of residential accommodation (not being a boarding house or a lodging house) prescribed by the regulations), or
(b) in the case of vacant land, it is zoned or otherwise designated for use under an environmental planning instrument (with or without development consent) for residential purposes, or
(c) it is rural residential land.
(2) Land is to be categorised as "farmland" if it is a parcel of rateable land valued as one assessment and its dominant use is for farming (that is, the business or industry of grazing, animal feedlots, dairying, pig-farming, poultry farming, viticulture, orcharding, bee-keeping, horticulture, vegetable growing, the growing of crops of any kind, forestry or aquaculture within the meaning of the Fisheries Management Act 1994 , or any combination of those businesses or industries) which:
(a) has a significant and substantial commercial purpose or character, and
(b) is engaged in for the purpose of profit on a continuous or repetitive basis (whether or not a profit is actually made).
(2) Land is not to be categorised as farmland if it is rural residential land.
(3) The regulations may prescribe circumstances in which land is or is not to be categorised as farmland.
(3) Land is to be categorised as "business" if it cannot be categorised as farmland or residential.
Am I able to have the category that applies to my land reviewed?
You may apply at any time for a review of the categorisation of rateable land. Forms are available at Customer Care or can be downloaded
Do I have to pay my Absentee Landowners Levy as well as my rates?
The Absentee Landowners Levy Act 1976(NI) requires that an absentee levy be raised “to a person who is not a company or an exempt person and has been absent from Norfolk Island for a period of, or periods aggregating, 183 days or more during the year of levy.” Absentee levies are issued on the 15th of September each year for the 12 month period immediately preceding, in this case September 2015 - September 2016. This legislation was put in place originally in 1976 and was not repealed in the transition from the Administration of Norfolk Island (ANI) to the Norfolk Island Regional Council (NIRC) on July 1 2016.
Amendments to the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW)(NI) stipulate that rates notices are to be levied annually by the Regional Council to land owners of Norfolk Island. The rates levies raised this year relate to the period 1 July 2016 - 30 June 2017. The purpose of Council rates is to “contribute to Council expenses such as the upkeep of roads and buildings, contributions towards Tourism and maintenance of public areas, including picnic areas, sports fields and reserves.”
The Operational Plan passed by Council on 28 September 2016 states that a review of the Absentee Landowners Levy Act 1976(NI) and the associated charge will be made as part of Budget deliberations in 2017.