Hobby farm fears

CON­FU­SION ON RATE RE­VIEW MOTIVES

Hills Gazette (Kalamunda) - - FRONT PAGE - Lisa Thomas

RES­I­DENTS on ru­ral prop­er­ties within the City of Swan say they are con­cerned and con­fused af­ter a let­ter was sent to them in­form­ing them of a rate re­view.

Cur­rently 4000 res­i­dents in the City are on ru­ral hobby farms rated on unim­proved val­u­a­tion (UV).

Non-ru­ral land is rated on gross rental val­u­a­tion (GRV).

The City has asked ratepay­ers to re­view whether their prop­erty is used for agri­cul­tural pur­suits, leav­ing them con­cerned the re­view could lead to an in­crease in rates and open them up to risk of sub­di­vi­sion for those who do not make a living off their land.

Sally Block from the Gidge­gan­nup Progress As­so­ci­a­tion said the City had sent the let­ter to res­i­dents with­out any prior warn­ing or in­for­ma­tion.

She said res­i­dents were sent a land use dec­la­ra­tion and asked to send it back within 21 days with­out any in­for­ma­tion about what it meant.

“Most of the prop­er­ties in this area are hobby farms and aren’t used for broad­acre farm­ing or used to make a living – they are just ru­ral prop­er­ties and that’s why peo­ple choose to live here,” she said.

“The City voted on this in their April meet­ing. Why wasn’t the let­ter sent out then to give res­i­dents time to un­der­stand it?

“We aren’t against the re­view, we just don’t know what it means.

“Peo­ple are con­cerned this will in­crease their rates. Some peo­ple have two houses on their ru­ral prop­er­ties – will this mean two lots of rates? We just don’t know.”

The City has ex­tended the time for ratepay­ers to re­turn their land use dec­la­ra­tion form un­til De­cem­ber 22, but coun­cil­lor Char­lie Zan­nino be­lieves more time is needed.

Cr Zan­nino will move a mo­tion at next month’s coun­cil meet­ing ask­ing for fur­ther time.

“If I get the sup­port for my mo­tion, the time pe­riod will be ex­tended un­til June 30,” he said.

“There’s a lot of con­fu­sion and peo­ple need to un­der­stand what they are sign­ing and there sim­ply isn’t enough time.”

Swan act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Bishop said the City un­der­stood there had been con­fu­sion sur­round­ing the UV rate re­view.

“The City has a role in en­sur­ing the rat­ing prin­ci­ples of the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act are cor­rectly ap­plied to rate­able land within the dis­trict. That means en­sur­ing ru­ral land is rated on its unim­proved val­u­a­tion and non-ru­ral land is rated on its gross rental val­u­a­tion,” he said.

“As the use of land can change from time to time, it is im­por­tant for the City to have a sys­tem in place to de­tect land use changes so that the val­u­a­tion method can be mod­i­fied ac­cord­ingly.

“The last re­view of all UV rated prop­er­ties was un­der­taken in 2007. Up­dat­ing this in­for­ma­tion will en­sure that rat­ing poli­cies are eq­ui­table across the City.”

Mr Bishop said the change in rat­ing could im­pact rates.

“If a prop­erty changes from UV to GRV, rates may in­crease or de­crease. This will de­pend on the val­u­a­tion by the Valuer Gen­eral’s Of­fice and the rate in the dol­lar adopted by the City,” he said.

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