Locals call for rates strike

STATE political parties are at loggerheads over Glamorgan Spring Bay Council’s planned change to the way rates are calculated.

As reported in the East Coast View last month, council agreed in June to adopt an Assessed Annual Value rates model, which will see some ratepayers pay more in annual rates while others less.

The change has been met with loud opposition, with some locals calling for a rates strike and others wanting the council placed into administration.

Acting Labor Leader and Shadow Minister for Local Government and Planning Anita Dow accused Local Government and Planning Minister Roger Jaensch of being in hibernation and called for him to listen to locals.

“Concerns have been raised across the community about the steep rate rises for the Glamorgan Spring Bay municipality,” Ms Dow said.

“Residents believe that this rise is a result of dysfunction within the council over a sustained period of time and are frustrated by the government’s reluctance to step in.

“The community has already been hit hard by Covid-19 along with the prolonged closure of the road at Paradise Gorge and are now facing dramatic rate rises.”

Local Lyons Labor MP Jen Butler said the community wanted to meet with Mr Jaensch.

“Last week I and Ms Dow, met with residents in Swansea and Orford to better understand the issues at hand,” Ms Butler said.

“While the community welcomed the upcoming visit of Member for Lyons John Tucker, there was a strong community call for Mr Jaensch to join him.

“Will Mr Jaensch talk to the residents facing rate rises of up to $1000?

“We will continue to work with the local community on this important issue and we urge Mr Jaensch to do the same.” Mr Jaensch said Ms Dow “should know better’’.

“As a former mayor herself, Ms Dow should know that setting rates is a matter for each council, and the Minister for Local Government and Planning plays no role in such operational matters,’’ he said.

“The truth is that while some ratepayers will pay more than they have been, many others will pay the same or less, and all ratepayers will benefit from the council moving to a more sustainable rating model than it had in the past.

“I know this because I met with the Glamorgan-Spring Bay Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and General Manager in Triabunna in late July to discuss concerns that community members had raised with me.

“Glamorgan Spring Bay is one of only two councils in Tasmania to have been using the Average Area Rating model for residential properties. Under this model a fixed rate is set for each township within Glamorgan Spring Bay municipality.

This means every residential property in the same town pays the same amount in general rates, regardless of property value.

General Manager Greg Ingham said in recent years, the variation in property valuations had grown dramatically.

He said the new model was fairer and more equitable. Asked why council hadn’t considered introducing the new system over time, Mr Ingham said the financial advice council had received showed it could not be delayed.

“This is the result of years of inaction by previous councils. “My mandate is to fix the problem and I believe we have turned a corner.’’

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