THEIR CASTLE: Glen and Louise Livingstone don’t want the rates at their property 27km outside Biloela to rise anymore.
THEIR CASTLE: Glen and Louise Livingstone don’t want the rates at their property 27km outside Biloela to rise anymore.

Rural rates are skyrocketing

JAMBIN residents Glen and Louise Livingstone are waiting on a response from Banana Shire Council after complaining about rising rates costs, and they’re keen for others in the region to check their six-monthly rates bills for increases.

Mr Livingstone, a disabled pensioner, said this week that his rates have increased by 28% over the past four years on land which is classed rural residential.

“I’d like people to have a look at their rates and for council to explain why rates are going up by 10% for no reason — it’s just a money grab.”

Mr Livingstone — who met with Member for Callide Colin Boyce last Friday to discuss the issue — said rates were higher for people living on rural residential land compared to those on land zoned as rural.

Mr Boyce said this week he was “sympathetic” to the couple’s argument, but it was a local government issue.

“The best thing Mr Livingstone and other affected land owners can do is to contact their local councillor and ask them to lobby the Banana Shire Council on their behalf.”

Mr Livingstone’s rates bill for the second half of this year, to be paid over the next month, is $964.44 and for the first half of this year he paid $873.84.

In 2014 he paid $887 and $784; In 2015 he paid $913.57 and $700.76; in 2016 he paid $691.12 and $733.01; in 2017 he paid $733.01 and $792.93; in 2018 he paid $792.93 and $873.84.

However, he said that not all land in the area has been rezoned.

“I could name 15 properties that haven’t been changed yet. There’s 200-acre blocks that can’t run a rabbit and you couldn’t make a cent from them and they haven’t been changed to rural residential.”

Mr Livingstone said his land was changed from rural to rural residential 25 years ago, and rates had initially been rising slowly by about 2% to 3%.

Last week, Mr Livingstone sent a letter of complaint to council who have 30 days to reply.

“We’ve asked council to investigate why rates are going up by 10% and told them that it’s not acceptable.

“I’d like my rates reduced for a start and I’d like others to look at their rates because people just pay them without looking and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.”

Banana Shire Mayor Nev Ferrier said this week that rates were calculated by multiplying the land value by the rate set for the category the land was classified in, with the land value determined by Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME).

The category is determined by the land use type, the land use type is set by DNRME and council sets the rate for each category at its annual budget meeting.

During the 2019/20 budget deliberations council attempted to keep the volume of rates collected from each category to an increase of 1.85%, Cr Ferrier said.

“Mr Livingstone’s property’s land use is classified as rural residential. In recent years the rural residential category has been extremely volatile with land values in different locations within the category increasing and decreasing dramatically.”

He said a 10% rates cap had been introduced to combat the volatility.

“In Mr Livingstone’s situation, yes his rates increased from $792.93 to $873.84 over the past 12 months.

“This would have been significantly higher, around $1300, if the cap had not been introduced.”

A Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME) spokesperson said it was important to note that rates were set by councils and valuations were one of many factors taken into account when councils finalised annual budgets and determined rates.



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