Rates FAQs

Rates breakdown pie chart

* The pie chart above represents Council's total income. 

See a breakdown above of how your rates are spent in the Cessnock Local Government Area. Below are some frequently asked questions that will help you better understand more about rates and charges.

Why do you have to pay rates?

Councils help local communities run smoothly. They administer various laws and regulations to help maintain and improve services and facilities for the community. These services include community services, sporting and recreation services, environmental planning, public health, environmental protection and waste collection, treatment and disposal. The rates you pay allow Council to fund these services.

How does Council decide how much you have to pay in rates and charges?

Each council is required to determine the combination of rates, charges, fees and pricing policies needed to fund the services it provides to the community. This is called a Revenue Policy. The Revenue Policy contains a rating structure that determines which rates and charges you will have to pay and how they will be calculated. Charges are generally determined on either an annual basis or according to usage – or they may be a combination of both. 

Councils can choose how they calculate and distribute rates among categories of rateable properties in the council area. For each category or sub-category, rates can be calculated in one of three ways. They can be based:

  • entirely on the land value of the property
  • on a combination of the land value of the property and a fixed amount per property
  • entirely on the land value, but subject to a minimum amount.

The land value is determined by the NSW Land Registry.

How does council decide which category your property is in?

Each parcel of land must be included in one of four categories for rating purposes – residential, business, farmland or mining. Council decides which category your property should be in based on its characteristics and use. Most people are charged ordinary rates under the residential category.

What can you do if you don't agree with the categorisation of your property?

Categories are important, because rates differ depending on the category of the land. So if your land is, for example, categorised as farmland you may pay a lower rate per dollar of land value than if your land is categorised as business.

If you are not satisfied with the category given to your property, you may apply to Council for the category to be reviewed. If you do this, council must notify you of their decision and the reasons for that decision. If you still do not agree with the category given to your property, you may appeal to the Land and Environment Court. You must do this within 30 days of receiving Council’s review decision. Contact the court to find out how to lodge an appeal.

What if you don’t agree with the land value of your property?

In NSW, you can object to a land valuation if you don’t agree with it. Your initial objection should be to the NSW Valuer General, who will obtain a second opinion from a valuer to review the assessment. You have 60 days to lodge your objection. The Valuer General will decide your objection within 90 days. If you are not satisfied with the determination, you can appeal to the Land and Environment Court of NSW. You have 60 days to appeal after your objection is determined. Even if you lodge an objection, you must still pay your rates while your objection is being considered. To lodge an objection, visit the Valuer General’s website.

What is rate pegging?

The government sets a limit on the total amount of income that a council can raise from certain rates and charges. This is called the rate-peg percentage and it is specified by the Minister for Local Government each year. 

 Because of rate pegging, council’s overall rates revenue cannot increase by more than the percentage increase approved by the Minister. If overall land values rise, councils may have to reduce or otherwise adjust the amounts levied per dollar so that total income does not grow by more than the percentage increase approved.

Do you have to pay a domestic waste management service charge if you don't use the service?

Yes. The Local Government Act requires councils to levy an annual charge for providing domestic waste management services on all parcels of rateable land for which the service is available, whether or not it is actually used. It is considered that all property owners should contribute to the current and future provision of waste services.

As a pensioner, are you eligible for a concession/rebate on your rates?

Concessions are available for eligible pensioners. To be an eligible pensioner you must receive a pension from either Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and be entitled to a pensioner concession card issued by the Commonwealth Government. You can only claim a concession on the property if it is the sole or principal place you live.

How do you apply for a pensioner concession?

A pensioner concession application can be made over the phone or in person with Council's customer service team. For more information on pensioner concessions visit the Pensioners Concessions page here on Council’s website.

What if you cannot afford to pay your rates?

You may be eligible for a concession on the grounds of hardship. Council may be able to assist by agreeing to alternative payment plans. Contact Council's Customer Relations Team on 4993 4100.

Can you be exempt from paying council rates?

There are some parcels of land that are exempt from rates and charges. These include parcels of land within a national park and land that belongs to, for example, a religious body or school. Unless you meet the exemption criteria outlined in the Local Government Act 1993, you cannot be exempt from paying rates.

For more information, please contact Council's Customer Relations Team on 4993 4100.