Gladstone unit owners hit with 50% rate hike
UNIT owners in the Gladstone region are being slugged up to 50% more in council rates than last year after increases in Gladstone Regional Council's budget, causing outrage among mum and dad investors.
As the September deadline for rates payments looms closer, ratepayers in the Gladstone region are noticing increased costs.
And one Gladstone home owner, Shane Doessel, is furious.
Mr Doessel owns two apartments he and his wife bought as their retirement nest egg.
Last year general rates for his each of his apartments were $788, and classed as category 6.
When this year's rates notice arrived in August, his apartments were listed as category 7, a new category.
General rates totalled $1170 for each, an increase of about 50%.
"I'm just an average person trying to set myself up for retirement," he said.
The council on Monday confirmed it had received a number of inquiries about the introduction of the new Category 7, which affects a total of 2167 properties.
"This change was made to increase equity between the smaller community titles schemes, those comprising less than eight units, and the larger community scheme," chief financial officer Mark Holmes said.
"The average general rate paid for those in the smaller schemes in previous years was $1176 in 2013-14, whereas the larger community schemes, paying the minimum general rate, paid an average of $872 for the same period."
Mr Doessel said this explanation made no sense to him.
"You're paying twice as much for the same services, so how is that fairer?" Mr Doessel said.
Local property developer Andre Taute owns three apartments now classed as Category 7.
"Right across the board, the rates have increased, but the apartments in this instance have been slogged," he said.
"It's well beyond the current rate of inflation, which is about 2.5 or 3% - 50% is just not acceptable.
"The ... increase is discriminatory and not equitable, in the sense that if they had a rate capping on top of it we could understand."
He said the way the council has calculated the increase was wrong.
Gladstone Regional Council confirmed the general rates cap of 10% was not applied in this instance.
"When we're setting a rate category, we need to apply the new rate first. The cap doesn't apply to a minimum," Mr Holmes said.
New rate a double whammy for owners
JOHN Fieldus is co-principal at Ray White Real Estate, where the majority of Gladstone region apartments managed will be subject to a rate increase of up to 50%.
"It appears to be a double whammy, because they're paying the body corporate fees but getting rates stuck on them as well," he said.
Mr Fieldus said buying property was like buying a car.
"They know they have to pay the rego fees...it's the same deal with rates," he said.
He said the rise would affect people's willingness to buy apartments, but he wasn't panicking.
"Gladstone council is a very well-managed council. They've had to put up with a lot of social upheaval in town, and that's expensive to deal with," he said.
Apartment costs are 'on a par' with other councils
REGIONAL councils around Gladstone have banded together over Gladstone Regional Council's controversial decision to raise general rates of some apartment blocks by up to 50%.
Rockhampton Regional Council CEO Evan Pardon said the rates for apartments appear to be on par with those charged to Rockhampton apartment owners.
"It's something that each individual council has to work out, according to their finances and where they sit at time," he said.
Banana Shire Council CEO Ray Geraghty said that while apartments do not make up a large component of properties in his area, rates categories were a work in progress.
"There's no guarantee, and they may well remain the same," he said.
General rates increases
- Mackay: 3%
- Rockhampton: 3.6%
- North Burnett: 3%
- Gladstone: 2.7%