Ratepay­ers hit with 20 per cent rise

EX­CLU­SIVE PIC: MI­GA­LOO SUR­FACES OFF PORT

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - ANGELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

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.”

Photo by ALI­SON GE­ORGE

Sa­cred place: tra­di­tional dancer Robert Lafragua at Moss­man Gorge

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