Local Government Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich has moved to retain the amnesty on council rates for independent living units (ILUs) in retirement villages owned by not-for-profit organisations.
The Minister has decided not to accept changes recommended in a report prepared by the Local Government Advisory Board following its inquiry into section 6.26 (2) (g) of the Local Government Act 1995 relating to the local government rating of land used for charitable purposes.
Ms Ravlich said in making the decision she was particularly mindful of the concerns of many retirees over recommendations to amend the Local Government Act 1995 to allow local government to levy rates on ILUs in retirement villages owned by not-for-profit organisations.
“This was a difficult decision and I am aware of its financial impact on a number of local governments that have significant and growing not-for-profit aged accommodation located within their boundaries,” she said.
“I consider the current situation that provides local government with the option to rate the properties concerned and the community the option to contest rateability through the State Administrative Tribunal the most balanced approach to this difficult matter.”
The Minister said previous decisions by the courts and the State Administrative Tribunal had found properties owned by charitable not-for-profit organisations should be exempt from rates.
Ms Ravlich said that Commonwealth taxation legislation for charitable organisations had not assisted in clarifying the situation for rating by local government and this suggested that a State legislative solution might not be practical.
“However, I am encouraged that the peak body representing the not-for-profit retirement village sector, Aged and Community Services WA, has indicated that its members will consider negotiating with individual local governments on making a financial contribution in recognition of services that local governments might directly provide to retirement villages,” she said.
“I encourage local governments to take the opportunity to explore this offer with retirement village operators in their districts.”
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