Va­cant lot rate debts writ­ten off

Kalgoorlie Miner - - NEWS - Clare Kenyon

The Shire of Cool­gar­die will write off over $500,000 worth of rates for va­cant lots in the town, after coun­cil­lors voted in favour of the plan at Tues­day night’s coun­cil meet­ing.

De­spite a lengthy de­bate, the Shire voted 4-3 to sur­ren­der 78 prop­er­ties to the crown and auc­tion off 12, while leav­ing the decision on a fur­ther 120 for a later date.

The decision was halted at last month’s meet­ing as coun­cil­lors wanted to view the prop­er­ties in ques­tion.

But the mo­tion was still met with op­po­si­tion, de­spite coun­cil­lors con­duct­ing an in­spec­tion of the prop­er­ties last Wed­nes­day.

Deputy pres­i­dent Tracy Rath­bone moved to stand down the decision un­til they re­ceived the town’s plan­ning strat­egy, as the lots could be in­cor­po­rated into the pro­posed “life­style blocks”.

“Once we give land away to the gov­ern­ment it is go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult to get it back,” she said.

Ms Rath­bone was cau­tious to ap­prove the plan in case Cool­gar­die ex­pe­ri­enced a boom.

How­ever coun­cil­lor Norm Karafilis said the Shire should use the plan as a test for the re­main­ing 120 lots.

“There hasn’t been any ac­tion on this land since the 1880s,” he said.

Coun­cil­lor Betty Lo­gan said more pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion was needed be­fore a decision was reached, but Coun­cil­lor Kris John­son dis­agreed say­ing the pub­lic had the last two months to make en­quiries. Shire pres­i­dent Mal­colm Cullen said they should not lose the op­por­tu­nity to re­cover rate rev­enue while they had it.

Ad­min­is­tra­tive ser­vices man­ager Rhonda Evens said the lots were worth $5000 to $6000 in auc­tion, so they would have to sell them at twice that to make back their loss of rate rev­enue.

It was pro­posed that a con­sul­tancy ser­vice would be used to start the process of sell­ing the prop­er­ties.

The Shire be­gan con­duct­ing ti­tle searches on the 220 va­cant lots in 2010, with the own­ers iden­ti­fied and billed for rates back­dated to 2005, how­ever let­ters went unan­swered.

Shire chief ex­ec­u­tive Paul Webb told the Kal­go­or­lie Miner the need for on­go­ing ac­cess to Com­mon­wealth fund­ing had forced the decision.

With many Fed­eral grants as­sessed on the Shire’s rates base, Mr Webb said any over­sup­ply of va­cant blocks could dis­tort the out­come for Cool­gar­die.

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