Special Charge Scheme Policy

Adopted by Council: 6 November 2013      

Policy Goals

To ensure an equitable and consistent approach is used to implement, administer and deliver Special Charge Schemes under Section 163 of the Local Government Act 1989 in relation to the construction of new roads, sealing / upgrade of unsealed roads, kerb and channel, footpaths, nature strips, traffic calming & management devices, drainage works, including easements, drains and associated infrastructure works throughout the municipality.     

Policy Implementation

In accordance with Section 163 of the Local Government Act 1989, Council can impose a special charge for works or services on property owners who Council believes receive a ‘special benefit’ from the provision of those works or services.  

In September 2004, Local Government Victoria established the Special Rates and Charges Ministerial Guidelines which ensure the schemes are fair and equitable.  

This policy relates to all property owners in the Latrobe City who are affected by a special charge scheme where it is considered that the construction of such works will be of special benefit to those who would be required to pay a Special Charge to assist in the funding of local street infrastructure schemes.  Refer also Appendix 1 for a summarised process flow.

*In accordance with the Local Government Act 1989, Section 163B(1) Drainage works including easements, drains, upgrades & renewal programs can be enforced where it is deemed necessary by Council.  

A scheme may be initiated by recommendation of Council, a request from a resident/owner or by other interested or affected parties.  

Where the final costs exceeds the Council estimated cost because of design and market influences rather than changes requested by residents, Council will meet the additional costs based on 10% beyond the original estimated cost.  

It is important to note programmed capital maintenance and rehabilitation works are planned for and funded by Council and cannot take part in a special charge scheme arrangement.  Where residents prefer to have the scoped works altered and/or undertaken sooner, a Special Charge Scheme may be considered.   

Council may survey property owners to determine their support towards a proposed scheme and consider these findings during its deliberations.  Generally, a majority of support from property owners is required for a scheme to proceed, however Council may choose to proceed with works without the majority of support, where it is deemed the works will provide benefit to abutting properties and the broader community.    

An internal panel will be assembled to determine the level of benefit the potential scheme will provide to not only the property owners, but also the surrounding community.  An assessment will be completed to determine which properties will derive direct benefit from the works in question. In determining the apportionment of costs for each property Council take into consideration frontage, area, benefit, access, usage and town planning zoning of land within the Scheme resulting in a recommendation as to which properties are to be included in the scheme. A concept design will be completed to assist in the cost analysis process, with the design being completed in line with Councils current construction standards. This assessment will be presented to Council when considering the scheme.  

One or more of the following will be assessed for each scheme type:  

Construction of new roads and Sealing / upgrade of unsealed roads: -      

  • Current usage / anticipated usage (of all vehicle types); -      
  • Property owner and/or community support; -      
  • Demonstrated need / necessity; -      
  • Link to schools, community facilities, existing roads, other transport modes, etc.; and -      
  • Road class assessment, e.g. width, road base, depth of pavement, alignment, etc.  

Residential Kerb & Channel: -      

  • Current / proposed capacity and/or table drain / pit location; -      
  • Rainfall trends and topographical assessment; -      
  • Property owner and/or community support; and -      
  • Demonstrated need / necessity.  

Residential Footpaths / Nature strips and Rural Footpaths / Nature strips: -      

  • Current usage / anticipated usage; -      
  • Property owner and/or community support; -      
  • Demonstrated need / necessity; and -      
  • Link to schools, community facilities, existing pathways/nature strips, other transport modes, etc.  

Traffic Management / Calming Devices: -      

  • Current road way usage; -      
  • Property owner and/or community support; -      
  • Demonstrated need / necessity; and -      
  • Link to schools, community facilities, existing road types, other transport modes, e.g. emergency services, etc.  

Drainage: -      

  • Current / proposed capacity; -      
  • Existing / proposed development area considerations; -      
  • Rainfall trends and topographical assessment; -      
  • Property owner and/or community support; and -      
  • Demonstrated need / necessity.  

Council will notify all affected property owners and may hold a public meeting advising interested parties of the conceptual design, overall process, proposed apportionment, method of payments, submissions and objections process, etc.  

Special Charge Schemes will generally be prepared at least 12 months in advance of proposed construction to provide sufficient time for a detailed consultation process to be undertaken, and in cases where Council is required to contribute a share of the cost of the works, time to provide sufficient funding in its capital works program.  

Schemes may include all works, materials, charges, overheads and costs to install the required infrastructure, including project management, design, traffic management, road pavement works, nature strip works, driveway, drainage works, kerb and channel, street furniture, landscaping services, lighting and intersection works, etc.  

The Ministerial Guidelines made under Section 163(2C) of the Local Government Act 1989 is used to calculate the maximum total amount that may be levied as a special charge to be recovered from property owners for each particular project.  There are no definitive guidelines for the calculation of the actual amount, known as the apportionment, to be charged to individuals.  The underlying principle is that a property must receive benefit from the proposed works before a cost can be levied.  The apportionment method must be reasonable, fair, and equitable for each individual proposal.  Consultation with affected people will assist in this determination prior to the declaration of the proposed Special Charge Scheme.  Previous determinations of the Victorian and Civil Administrative Tribunal may be used as a guide.   

Project, engineering and administrative costs may be associated with the preparation and implementation of a scheme.  These costs will be recovered as part of the overall scheme amount.  Charges levied under Special Charge Schemes may be paid in a lump sum immediately following completion of the works or via a payment arrangement to be paid within 5 years.  Current interest rates will apply to the latter method of payment.  

Once Council resolves to declare a Special Charge Scheme and in accordance with Section 223 Hearing of the Local Government Act 1989, a public notice of ‘Intention to Declare’ will be published in local newspapers, along with a formal notice of scheme details and costs sent to each property owner inviting submissions from all interested parties.  Hardcopy details of the special charge scheme will also be available at each Council Service Centre for viewing by the general public.  

Only written submissions received within the consultation period (28 days) will be considered by Council.  Following a review of these submissions, Council may resolve to: -      

  • proceed without any modification to the original declaration, “declares” the special charge and proceed by serving formal notice; -      
  • abandon the scheme; or -      
  • undertake significant modifications to the original scheme which would require the process to recommence; or -      
  • undertake minor modifications to the original scheme, return to the “Intention to Declare”  stage or proceed by serving formal notice.  

The authors of all submissions received and property owners affected by the proposed scheme will be notified regarding Council’s discretion.  

Property owners have the right to appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) regarding Council’s decision.  Objections should address the criteria in Section 185 of the Local Government Act 1989.  All applications will be administered by the VCAT and must be submitted within 30 days of the notice levying the special charge being issued.   

VCAT may determine in favour of the scheme where Council will initiate the special charge scheme process and works, or they may notify Council of their objection to the scheme, to which Council may review and modify or abandon the special charge scheme.  

Where multiple sealing of rural unsealed roads special charge schemes have been declared, the roads shall be prioritised using the assessment and scoring method detailed in appendix two.  

This policy has been reviewed after giving proper consideration to all the rights contained within the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006; and any reasonable limitation to human rights can be demonstrably justified.