Rates petition gathers more than 2000 supporters
UPDATE 12.15PM: A petition launched to push for a decrease in rates in Gladstone has gathered more than 2000 supporters just 12 hours after being launched.
A link to the change.org petition is being widely shared on social media, and it attracting plenty of comments about the amount of rates Gladstone property owners are being asked to pay.
Commenting on The Observer's Facebook page, Tina Skyring said she signed this petition because as a single income parent, she couldn't afford the increases in rates.
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"Right now my rate increase means I need to use part of my fortnightly food budget," she said.
"Try explaining that to hungry mouths. It also means that my kids won't be able to participate in any extra school curriculum.
"Sporting activities are also now off the calendar for next year. My wage isn't increasing but my bills are.
"Time for a second job - but who looks after my kids while I'm working?"
Amanda Smits said her rates last year were $4200.
"I'm sure I'm not getting any more than what others get from the council services. I'm guessing this year mine will be up round the $4500 mark," she said.
Michael Britton suggested residents should be asking where their money was being spent, and why rates had increased while property values decreased.
"Is the council spending millions on city beautification despite the hardships faced by residents because of such increases in costs?" he asked.
"Is some of the city's infrastructure being exploited by the big industry and the cost of this being passed onto ratepayers?"
Kim Rooney suggested ratepayers should take a leaf out of the union handbook and march to council chambers for a sit in and protest.
"We are paying more than residents on Gold Coast and our land has dropped in value."
8AM: A petition has been launched pushing for a rates decrease and a review of the budget by Gladstone Regional Council.
A letter to Mayor Gail Sellers included with the petition reads: "The Gladstone community has become aware of the ever increasing pricing on rates and require a review into the budget of the Gladstone Regional Council.
"The further increases are becoming strenuous on Gladstone home owners and are not justified to the people of Gladstone.
"Our community requires a decrease in the price of rates and a say into where the budget is spent.
"The Gladstone community wants a fair go and a regional council willing to listen to its people."
Sharing their reasons for signing the petition, respondents said rates in Gladstone were unaffordable and were too high.
"The increase in rates is ridiculous and astronomical. Not to mention unfair. How can this happen if land value and house prices have dropped?" one asked.
When the council's 2015-16 budget was released in July, it showed 46% of residential property owners would see their general rate cost drop by 0.04%.
However, 25% were set to receive a general rate increase of 5%, while the balance could expect varying increases between 5% and 10%.
When fixed charges were taken into account, for items such as wastewater treatment, rubbish collection and disposal, a typical residential ratepayer could expect to see an overall increase of 4.08% in their rates bill.
Mayor Gail Sellers, in her budget speech, said the council had endeavoured to keep rate increases to a minimum by reducing the council's costs.
About land valuations:
THE State Government assesses land valuations that are used to calculate council rates, state land tax and state land rental.
Local governments use statutory land valuations as a basis to calculate rates.
However, valuations are just one of many factors taken into account when councils are framing their annual budgets and determining rates.
It is not unusual for rates to change even though statutory land values have not changed.
When valuing land, valuers:
- Research the property market
- Examine trends and sales information for each land use category (e.g. residential, commercial, industrial and rural)
- Inspect vacant or lightly improved properties that have recently been sold
- Interview vendors and purchasers of property, where appropriate
- Consider the land's present use and zoning under the relevant planning scheme
- Take into account physical attributes and constraints on use of the land.
Source: Queensland Government