A shroud of secrecy has been...
Rates cut for those on high value land properties and rate rise for battlers on small blocks
Bowen Mountain, Bligh Park and South Windsor residents among those to see rate rises from July, while high value properties in areas like Oakville and Windsor Downs will see their rates cut.
· 2.5% general increase in every ratepayer’s rates from July 1
· plus – 5.0% increase for your refuse collection
· plus – 2.5% increase for pump-out
· 2.5% already added to commercial waste disposal.
· plus – additional rates increase for those on lower value blocks, decrease for those on expensive blocks and acreage
If you’re one of those Hawkesbury ratepayers battling to stay afloat as inflation soars, while interest rates, fuel, food, and mortgages rise rapidly, we have more bad news for you – your Council rates are about to go up substantially too.
If you own a property on land below the median value level across the Hawkesbury – that’s those with the smallest, cheapest blocks in some of our battler suburbs and regions – you will see an additional rise too.
But if you live on acreage or one of the high value town blocks you will see a cut to your rates bill, thanks to the Liberals and their supporters on Hawkesbury Council who successfully pushed for a change this week to the base rate from 30% to 50%.
What that means is this – from July 1, if you live in Bowen Mountain, for example, where land values are mostly relatively low, and you have a pump-out sewage system as most do – you’ll be looking at around a $200 annual rise on your rates due to the change to a 50% base rate, plus an increase of 2.5% on your pump-out costs and 5% more on your weekly bin pick-up, in addition to a 2.5% rise in your general rates.
That will see many BoMo residents being charged over $5000 a year, or as much as $500 a month – equivalent to the amount paid by someone on 100 acres at Bilpin, though the Bilpinite will see his or her rates fall in July, not rise.
How the base rate change affects you
If your land value is $250,000, you currently pay $978.14 in base rates and will now see a rise of $185.77 a year, plus all the other additional charges.
If your land value is $1million, you are currently paying $2562.54 in base rates and that will drop to $2324.38, a decrease of $238.16 annually.
Put simply, if you live in suburbs where the blocks are bigger and have a higher land value – or some expensive blocks in our towns – you will see a cut in your annual rates bill – so for areas like Windsor Downs, Oakville and many in Grose Wold, for example – there will be rate drops, even though you will also get those additional refuse charges and general rate increase.
YOU CAN FIND OUT IF YOUR BASE RATE PAYMENT IS GOING UP OR DOWN NEXT MONTH BY USING THIS HANDY COUNCIL ONLINE TOOL.
At this week’s council meeting, Liberal councillors and their political bedfellows voted through the change to the rates’ base rate from 30% to 50%, as part of a raft of rate changes as itemised in Council’s annual Operational Plan.
As Liberal councillor Sarah Richards pointed out, the base rate change was a policy the Liberals had taken to the local council elections, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, especially those who voted for them.
It’s worth pointing out that if the base rate had stayed at 30% all ratepayers would see bigger bills from July, not just those on lower value blocks.
The point made by those councillors who voted for the base rate change is basically that we all use the same council services. That isn’t quite true though, with some of our more remote areas not having a kerbside domestic waste pickup, as just one example, or a nearby Council funded swimming pool or library.
Here are the councillors who voted the base rate change through:
Patrick Conolly – Liberal
Sarah Richards/McMahon – Liberal
Paul Veigel – Liberal
Jill Reardon – Liberal
Eddie Dogramaci – Small Business Party
Nathan Zamprogno – independent
Les Sheather – independent
“I think that it is no secret that doing this tonight has occurred because it was something that the Liberal councillors, and as the leader of the Liberal ticket, we took to the very last election in December and we received a good proportion of the vote based on that premise,” said Cllr Richards, who since her Federal election defeat – when she saw a mere 371 vote gap between her and Labor MP Susan Templeman bloom into a 14,000-plus margin for the sitting MP – appears to have reverted to her maiden name of McMahon. As Sarah McMahon she contested the Federal seat of Reid in 2004, and lost then too.
The Hawkesbury Liberals snared 34.8% of the vote at the December council elections – so hardly a majority, though they did get more votes than other individual groups and independents.
Voting with the Liberals was independent Nathan Zamprogno who said they did have a mandate for change, plus independent Les Sheather and Eddie Dogramaci of the Small Business Party.
Cllr Richards called the previous base rate of 30% an “inequity that has existed over the last few years”.
Independent councillor Mary Lyons-Buckett pointed out an earlier council voted by a majority of 8 to 4 to go to a 30% rate after a lot of research and discussion.
“That was after much workshopping round the various scenarios that occur,” she told the meeting.
“We had looked at that extensively and a clear majority said we wanted to make that change [to a 30% base rate].”
She said the decision back then did coincide with big increases in land values in the Oakville area as some rezoning was on the cards – land values are decided by the State’s Valuer General – which translated to large increases on those residents’ rates.
“With this change they will not go back to the rates they had before,” she warned this week. “They will get $600 a year off for some of them.
“What we see now is that any landowner whose value of property is under the median value for the residential rate will have an increase in their rates,” said Cllr Lyons-Buckett.
“The highest value properties will have quite a big decrease. The bigger businesses, the big landowners will have big decreases. And some farmland will have big increases.”
“I don’t consider that to be fairer,” said Cllr Lyons-Buckett.
“We also know we will be heading for harder economic times as interest rates go up. I don’t think it’s fair to make this change at this point.”
And Greens councillor Danielle Wheeler agreed, saying, “one of the submissions [while the plans were on public exhibition] said, ‘it’s appalling, unfair and unjust’, and I couldn’t agree more. We have all seen the maps of how the 50% will play out.
“All the properties below the median land value will pay more and every property above will pay less – that is not fair.”
But Cllr Zamprogno, who has been a leading proponent of the base rate change, said he and his Liberal colleagues were “re-introducing an element of fairness”.
“There is a majority of Hawkesbury electors who wanted us to pursue this policy.”
He added, “I am here proudly to represent the thousands of rural residential land owners whose rates have risen so sharply and in disproportion to their income and to the benefit they receive in services. They voted very clearly last December for a change.”
But Cllr Lyons-Buckett said she was tired of hearing Cllr Zamprogno saying, “that these people are hard done by and don’t have the services. Many people in the townships don’t have services. Many of us don’t have [town] water, we don’t have sewers, we have got to travel everywhere, we’ve got bad roads.
“People round the Colo area don’t want to pay any rates because they don’t think they are getting anything for it.”
She also pointed out in some of our more remote regions – including the Upper Colo area – residents had no useable roads, no bridges, and were now going to be slapped with a bigger rates bill.
Deputy Mayor, Labor’s Barry Calvert, said he could not vote for the base rate change either because, “you are choosing one side over the other, you are choosing a certain group of people who feel they should be treated differently to other people and I can’t support that”.
In his support for the rate change, Cllr Sheather focussed on the example of someone going out for a packet of cigarettes.
“Some have to drive 20 minutes to get a packet of cigarettes,” he said. “But if you live in South Windsor you can walk two minutes to get it.”
“If you want to build a granny flat, at South Windsor you can do it. Try doing it at Oakville. In lower economic areas you move out of your house and you can make money out of it, not everywhere but in some places you can.”
The rate changes will come into effect from July 1.
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