The opposition has promised to work with Victoria's councils to deliver what it says are better quality and more affordable services, while addressing cost-shifting between state and local governments.
Opposition local government spokesman Liberal MP for Polwarth, Richard Riordan, said the coalition had a four point model, to address core issues facing local government.
That included establishing an agreed set of council core responsibilities, ensuring robust governance and management standards, delivering a detailed review of the overall revenue structure of local government, and fixing the planning process.
"By establishing an agreed set of core responsibilities for local governments, councils will have certainty on the exact services they need to provide ratepayers, as well as the services that are provided by the state government," Mr Riordan said.
"This differs from the current system, in which the state government reduces funding for existing services that it has otherwise provided for years, meaning councils are further stretched to meet demand."
Mr Riordan said amendments would be made to the Local Government Act 2020, to ensure minimum standards were adhered to through improving council Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and also requiring councillors and council staff to report to their community at public forums.
He said councillors would have access to greater information, greater communication and knowledge channels with other councils, and access to independent financial and legal professionals, to sit in on meetings and provide specialist assessments.
Victorian Farmers Federation president Emma Germano said the organisation had "punched on" with councils, arguing primary producers were paying too much in rates.
She told the recent VFF forum the organisation didn't want to fight with councils any more.
"We think the rating system is completely unfair, if you live in regional Victoria, you are likely to be paying double than what you would be paying in Melbourne," she said.
She asked opposition leader Matthew Guy and deputy Peter Walsh about the coalition's plans for reforming the rating system.
Mr Walsh agreed the system was inequitable.
"It's not just about rates, if we focus on rates, we are missing the point," he said.
"You need to strip it right back and look at what local government actually delivers and whether they should be able to charge for what they charge for, what the state government delivers and what the commonwealth delivers."
He said there had been a significant blurring of the lines as to what each level of government was responsible for.
"The bottom of the food chain is local government, which takes on programs with local or state government funding," he said.
"Over time that funding lapses or is withdrawn and local government feels the need to continue that service.
"That's where they are in a hard place, as it's on the back of ratepayers, particularly farmers, who continue to pay for that."
Most councils did not levy a municipal charge, a flat fee used to offset some administrative costs,
The total amount raised from a municipal charge cannot be more than 20 per cent of the total raised from the combination of municipal charge and general rates.
"They think it is unpopular in the towns, it was brought in to allow councils to charge for community services that everyone uses," Mr Walsh said.
'Councils aren't using the tools they currently have, which would help with that particular situation.
"But we believe we need to actually go back to square one and have a whole reexamination of how local government is funding, and what they deliver, not just argue about rates.
"That's only arguing about one small part of revenue."
Mr Guy identified farming zones as a key point of contention.
"The problem we had, when we were in government - and I suspect that is the case again - is the concept of farming zones and schedules to meet those zones are being used in non-peri-urban areas," Mr Guy said.
"The challenges of peri-urban councils are completely different, from councils in the north-west, the west and the south-west.
He said governments needed to ensure that farm zones were regarded as been a workplace first.
"It's an employment zone, it's not a lifestyle zone first, it's a working zone first," he said.
"There are many aspects people who move into those zones may not understand, around smell, spraying, lights, working at night, whatever it may be."
He said governments needed to put planning zones in place that supported farming and agriculture, to give certainty into the future.
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