Hundreds of land owners face huge rate increases

Michael Sinclair-Jones
 
HUNDREDS of Toodyay land owners will  pay up to 50 per cent more in rates this year, and dozens more face rate rises of up to 75 per cent under a new Toodyay Shire Council rating system approved last month.
 
Shire rates revenue is planned to rise two per cent overall – twice Perth’s annual Consumer Price Index – but new differential rates on 1500 popular rural ‘lifestyle’ blocks will require many land owners – including retirees – to pay much more annually.
 
Three properties will pay rates increases of more than 75 per cent, while 49 will pay rates increases greater than 50 per cent and 305 others will see their rates increase by more than 20 per cent.
 
In reply to a question from The Toodyay Herald at last month’s ordinary council meeting, Shire President David Dow said rural owners with “mansions” on residential blocks would be required to pay higher rates.
 
His response followed a council decision two weeks earlier to reclassify hundreds of ‘life-style’ properties 

“The proposed rate increase is modest and much less than was contemplated in the Strategic Community Plan,” Shire CEO Stan Scott reported to the earlier special council meeting, which was attended by only two ratepayers.

“This is reflective of changed economic circumstances.
 
“There are several properties where the change from UV to GRV will result in a substantial increase in rates.
 
“While it could be argued that these properties have been getting a very good deal for a long time, there will still be considerable angst associated with the changes.”
 
Mr Scott’s recommendation to adopt the new rates was moved by Deputy President Therese Chitty, seconded by Cr Paula Greenway and carried 7-0, with Cr Sally Craddock absent from the meeting.
 
Eight farmers will pay rates increases of more than 20 per cent and 73 will have rate increases of more than 10 per cent. 
 
Eleven other farmers will see their rates fall by more than 20 per cent and a further 44 will have their rates bills cut by more than 10 per cent.
 
Farms are rated only on their unimproved value as agricultural land.
 
Rural residential properties previously rated UV will now be rated like town properties for their potential annual rental value based on dwelling age, size and construction materials, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and other features such as swimming pools and outbuildings.
 
Mr Scott’s report said 554 former UV properties reclassified as GRV Rural Residential will pay lower rates this year, but he did not say by how much.
 
A further 236 properties in that category will remain on minimum rates, which this year will be $1290 – $25 (two per cent) more than last year.

The shire has until August 31 to finalise its budget and is required by law to advertise the new rates in a public notice published in a newspaper to give ratepayers 21 days in which to lodge submissions.

 
Vote deadline nears
 
RATEPAYERS and other local residents – including tenants – have until 5pm Friday September 1 to check if they are enrolled to vote at their correct address for this year’s Toodyay Shire Council elections.
 
Unlike in previous years, elections for five seats on the nine-member council will be by postal ballot, with voting papers mailed to people’s addresses in reply-paid envelopes.
 
The election is on Saturday October 21.
 
People not enrolled at their correct address will not receive a ballot paper and will not be able to vote.
Voters can check their status online at elections.wa.gov.au, click on ‘enrol’, and ‘check your enrolment’.
 
Postal voting aims to encourage greater voter participation in Toodyay Shire Council elections, which resulted in only a 29.8 per cent turn-out in 2015 when local electors had to vote ‘in-person’ at a polling station.
 
Voting in WA local government council elections is not compulsory.


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