Budget: Fees and fines in punishing rise

CANBERRANS will pay more for parking fees and rates over the coming financial year, as well as bigger fines if they get caught doing the wrong thing.

Treasurer Andrew Barr addresses the media pack.

Treasurer Andrew Barr addresses the media pack.

Rates for residential blocks will go up by an average of 10 per cent, or about $139 per property, while commercial rates will rise by about 20 per cent, or $3388 per property.

ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr says the increased rates – particularly for commercial land – will make up for revenue lost through cuts to stamp duty, which immediately apply mainly to blocks worth over $1.65 million.

The stamp duty for the most expensive properties has been cut from 7.25 to 5.5 per cent, to support the Government’s aim of making the ACT more attractive to private investment.

Mr Barr says the shift to getting more revenue from rates, and less from stamp duty, was being phased in over a five-year period to minimise the unfairness on ratepayers who have paid stamp duty at a past, higher rate.

Stamp duty is also going down slightly for properties worth under half a million dollars, over the next five years, but is slated to remain unchanged for blocks worth between $500,000 and $1.65 million.

But the Home Buyer Concession Scheme, which reduces the amount of stamp duty payable, will be now extended to more people.

Anyone earning up to $160,000 a year will now be eligible for the scheme, with those buying a first home worth up to $425,000 getting the full concession, and those with homes up to $525,000 getting a partial concession.

The Fire and Emergency Services Levy charged to all ratepayers will also increase by $15.20 a year for residential and rural blocks, and $357.60 for commercial properties.

According to the Budget papers, the government will take about 20 per cent more revenue from parking fees across the Territory in 2013-14 than in the current financial year, most of which is coming from higher fees.

But relief from the annual parking fee hikes that Canberrans have endured for the last three years is in sight, with the 2013-14 increase being the last of four in a row that were first announced in the 2010-11 ACT Budget.

Forward estimates show the Government only plans to increase parking fees very slightly, to keep up with inflation, over the following three budgets starting from 2014-15.

Those who park illegally and pay a fine, however, will also contribute more to government coffers, by about 7 per cent compared to last financial year.

For traffic infringements, the government expects 28 per cent more revenue, due to higher penalties and more police initiatives targeting bad drivers.

But in percentage terms, those increases are dwarfed by the unexplained 202 per cent jump the government expects to see in court fines, from $202,000 to $615,000.


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