Ratepayers hit with 20 per cent rise
EXCLUSIVE PIC: MIGALOO SURFACES OFF PORT
UNIT owners in Port Douglas are reeling in shock after being hit with rate rises in the mail of up to 24 per cent.
The majority of houses in the Douglas region are categorised as Residential A and have had only a slight rate increase but residential strata units under the category Residential K have been hit with a substantial rise.
Melbourne based investor Tim Sherwood owns a townhouse on Solander Boulevard and said his rates have risen 18.5 per cent since last year.
“It gave me a terrible shock, the extraordinary thing is in the cities down south in Melbourne and Sydney, generally the equation you work out rates to the value of the property, which works out to about 0.1 per cent but in Port Douglas it sits over 1.1 per cent,” he said.
“It’s actually turned out to be a relatively poor investment with the state of the real estate market in Port Douglas in doldrums at the moment and the out goings far exceeding any rental income - we are now paying close to $6000 a year.”
LJ Hooker Port Douglas principal Michael Samson said the majority of investors come from Sydney and Melbourne and cannot believe council charges are around 30 per cent more than what they pay in major cities.
“We’ll see how they cope with the rate increase over the next few months,” he said.
“There are a lot of people looking and the first question they ask is, what is the return price and you’ve got to explain the costs of body corporate and the council rates.
“The rate increase does cut into their returns and when they think they can use their money better elsewhere it does hurt the property values.”
Cairns Regional Council Mayor Bob Manning said strata units received the high increase to “make it fair”.
“The rate in the dollar is so much more to try to equalise it more with residential A, otherwise residential A would be subsidising residential units - we’re trying to get some equity into it,” he said.
“We all should be paying our fair share for roads, drainage, parks, libraries etcetera, all these facilities we have and use.
Mr Manning said around 70 per cent of resi- dents in the CRC district received the expected 3.7 per cent increase or even less, with some reporting reductions in their rates.
Unit owner Mike Foley said he was shocked to discover he was paying more in rates than a house in the same area.
“It seems a bit unfair, we bought a half house because we couldn’t afford a whole house so why are we paying more rates than a whole house?” he said.
Another unhappy unit owner is Jenny McDowall who told the Gazette and said she had a 24 per cent increase in general rates.
“So much for the 3 per cent plus rise, this is a double blow on top of the obnoxious compulsory strata title unit insurance farce,” she said.
“The two units in our duplex return more than twice the rate to the council as that of a four bedroom/two bathroom home in Port Douglas and for what? One extra rubbish bin being emptied.”
Division 10 councillor Julia Leu said she is waiting on formal advice from council officers on the 20 per cent plus rates rises and would like to find out why the one category has jumped so high.
“We work very hard to keep the rates as low as possible and if there are specific incidents where there is obviously a much higher than the yield then I want to look at that,” she said. “The rating category is well overdue for a review and the 20 per cent increase is a very perfect example why that needs to occur.”
Sacred place: traditional dancer Robert Lafragua at Mossman Gorge