COUNCILS across the state have lost the right to charge differential rates after changes to the Local Government Act were confirmed last month.
Councils must now seek approval from Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell to charge some ratepayers more than others based on what type of property or land they own.
Current differential rates could be cancelled if the minister does not approve them.
Thousands of ratepayers across the state could be affected, depending on the outcome of a six-month consultation process that will determine how the changes will be implemented.
Ms Powell’s spokesman Greg Charter said current differential rates could be banned if they did not adhere to soon-to-be formulated guidelines.
Darebin and Moreland could be hit hard by the changes.
Moreland council was the first local government in the state to apply a differential rate on gambling venues, with the extra money spent on programs to counter problem gambling.
Darebin charges more for vacant land and pokie machine operators. It is also considering increasing rates on fast-food operators.
Darebin corporate and business services acting director Kerrie Jordan said the council would determine its position based on the new guidelines.
Victorian Local Governance Association chief executive Maree McPherson said the amendments to the act were a mixture of “sensible improvements” and “unnecessary interventions”. She supported the councils’ rights to continue to make decisions on differential rates.
“But we will work with the government to develop the ministerial guidelines on differential rates,” she said.
The guidelines will be created in time for the 2013-14 budget.