THE City of Greater Bendigo has backed calls on the state government to review rates exemptions for organisations benefiting from gaming, like the RSL.
A proposed submission to the state government's rating review also listed land used by private schools and universities as worthy of consideration, along with land used as a residence of a practising religious minister.
Rates exemptions for land used for mining were also questioned.
"The City of Greater Bendigo is supportive of exemptions for land for charitable purposes," the proposed submission stated.
"However, there is a need to be clearer and more consistent around what does and doesn't constitute an approved charitable use."
Mayor Margaret O'Rourke said it was fair to all residents that exemptions were consistent.
"The more properties that pay rates, the lower the rates paid by other residents or landowners," she said.
"At the moment we do not collect rates on land used for mining or RSLs that generate revenue and profits through poker machines.
"We think that in many cases these types of land uses are not 'charitable' and the criteria for exemptions should be reviewed."
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Cr O'Rourke said schools and universities often leased their premises on a commercial basis.
"So the land owner is raising a profit from the land, without contributing any rates, which we do not believe is fair," she said.
"Many of these organisations essentially operate as businesses, not charitable organisations, so they should be paying rates."
The city suggested imposing rates for private schools and universities would be an equitable way of contributing to the costs associated with infrastructure and services provided by councils.
"There are thousands of students across Greater Bendigo that use the footpaths and roads that surround the facilities, which the city pays for," the proposed submission stated.
The City of Greater Bendigo's suggestions are in keeping with those of the Municipal Association of Victoria.
The MAV also suggested some sources of renewable energy, such as solar and wind farms, be 'made rateable'.
Both the MAV and the City of Greater Bendigo highlighted the importance of flexible rating options.
However, Bendigo's proposed submission said Airbnb and similar services posed a challenge.
Properties that are expected to generate income - like those used for commercial and industrial purposes - attract higher rates.
The City of Greater Bendigo identified a need for a mechanism that could help councils track the use of land and administer appropriate rates.
"The city is keen to explore data matching with other areas of state government which would enable better targeting - where possible - to ensure the correct 'use' of property," the proposed submission said.
The City of Greater Bendigo also called for the ability to use rates to encourage owners of commercial premises in the CBD to have their properties tenanted.
"There should be the ability to utilise a higher differential rate for commercial premises that are vacant for a period of greater than 12 months," the proposed submission said.
"Currently, the guidelines do not allow this to occur."
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Factors that determine differential rates include capacity to pay, use of the land, and community benefits.
"Business and retail properties that derive income from their property have a higher capacity to pay and should then contribute more in rates," Bendigo's proposed submission said.
Rates in Victoria have been capped since the start of the 2016-17 financial year.
Rate capping is outside of the scope of the state government rating review.
"As Greater Bendigo continues to grow, it is important that we provide good quality services and infrastructure for everyone to enjoy," Cr O'Rourke said.
"Rates are a really important source of income for councils and contribute to our ability to provide critical infrastructure for our community."
Victorian local governments raised a total of $5.1 billion through rates in 2017-18.
Less than 50 per cent of total local government area revenue came from rates, according to the MAV.
The rating review is due to report to local government minister by March 31.
The City of Greater Bendigo's proposed submission will come before the council for endorsement during next Wednesday's meeting.
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