How is a RBG funded?
To access funding under the BAM Act, RBGs need to provide the department with a declared pest action plan (pest plan). The plan informs the determination of the declared pest rate (DPR) which DPIRD requests the Minister to impose.
DPRs are matched dollar-for-dollar by the state government. This funding can only be used for declared pest control under an approved pest plan.
It is quite likely that RBGs will receive funds from multiple sources. The minister and DPIRD however need to know what works are intended to be funded from funds collected through rates. Therefore the term declared pest action plan is used to describe the plan that only details those works supported by rates and matching funds. It is important that the plan is developed based on landholders needs and that landholders have been consulted to identify their needs.
Section 130 of the BAM Act gives the Minister the responsibility and authority to impose a DPR. Under s170, the Minister can authorise the department to disburse funds to a group from the DPA. The rate is collected by the Office of State Revenue, deposited into the DPA and matched by the state government.
Funds provided under s170 must be used in accordance with s138 (a) i.e. "to carry out measures to control declared pests on and in relation to areas for which the rates were collected." Rates are matched dollar for dollar by the State Government based on what is expected to be received in rates. All other RBG activities must be funded separately.
To have a rate raised and to access these funds annually, an RBG is required to reach an agreement with DPIRD on:
- a strategic plan outlining priorities for controlling declared pests in areas where rates are collected;
- an annual budget and Declared Pest Action Plan detailing control measures to be undertaken in areas where rates are collected;
- disbursement of funds from the DPA in accordance with agreed milestones and availability of funds, as well as the RBGs agreement under s170 of the Act; and
- reporting on performance and financial (audited) expenditure as detailed in correspondence annually from the Director General.
RBGs are free to seek and obtain funds or other resources from any source. RBGs can opt to rely on rates only, sponsorship and grants only or a combination of rates and sponsorship and grants to fund their operations.
What is the basis for rating?
The DPR can be applied on the basis of the unimproved land value (ad valorem) or via a flat rate. The rate is determined based on each RBG’s approved pest plan.
Before the Minister can determine the rate, the Minister must consult with the affected landholders on the proposed rate in accordance with the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (Declared Pest Account) Regulations 2016, before gazetting the rate. This is an annual process. RBGs are encouraged to have broad community support for the determination of a rate, it’s important that landholders recognise the value in paying a DPR.
The department provides support with modelling of rates and advice on consultation processes to inform and engage landholders. Rate assessments are issued by the Office of State Revenue in September each year.
The declared pest account (DPA)
The DPA is an account administered by DAFWA into which the rates and matching funds are deposited and then transferred to RBGs. Each RBG is allocated an account and funds in the DPA remain allocated to the RBG for which they were collected. Funds earn interest which is calculated quarterly. Interest earnings are paid the month following the end of each quarter (i.e. October, January, April and July). The groups receive statements quarterly and an annual statement in August for the previous financial year.
Can local government funds be used instead of a rate?
A local government may contribute funds to an RBG; but these funds will not be matched by the state government. Only a DPR is eligible for matched funding under the BAM Act.
The intent is for government to provide public funding to match private funding. Local government funding may be considered as public funding and so would not be eligible for matching. The BAM Act would need to be a changed for other arrangements to be eligible.