5 April, 2023
High valuations pose challenge for budget
RATEPAYERS across the Tablelands will be hoping their council will find a way to soften the blow of yet another significant increase in land valuations.
The latest valuations reflect the demand for property in the region, with an overall 19.6 per cent rise in valuations for residential properties across all towns and localities and a 42.2 per cent increase for rural residential properties, while primary producers are bracing for more hurt, with values lifted by 48.7 per cent.
Commercial land also shot up by 32.6 per cent on the back of significant increases in the value of land on the fringe of the Atherton CBD, while industrial land went up 15.2 per cent.
Farmer Ed Kochi is one of many producers who will be keen to hear what Tablelands Regional Council will do to manage the increases so they don’t translate to a massive hike in rates again. Last year, Mr Kochi joined more than 70 farmers who gathered to voice their anger at the continual high rate increases they have experienced in the past few years, with some paying as much as $100,000 in annual rates.
“Higher valuations are not a licence for council to increase rates,” he said.
“The council should set a prudent budget, know what revenue they need and set rates to suit.
“Councils are in a privileged position because they know what they require in terms of revenue and then they can go and get it – as long as it’s not wasted on all sorts of programs that are not needed.”
Mr Kochi believes the system by which the Valuer-General determines valuations is flawed because it is based on the sale of properties which can be significantly affected by people “paying stupid money” for land.
Another major factor affecting valuations is the inclusion of water allocations when determining the land’s value, even though those allocations can be sold to another property.
“It’s a huge impact on some people because, in some cases, this can make up one-third of the property’s valuation,” Mr Kochi said.
Despite TRC supporting the farmers’ case and writing to the Valuer-General in a bid to change the rules, nothing had happened.
“No one gives two stuffs because it doesn’t affect enough people so there’s not enough noise to change it,” he said.
Mayor Rod Marti acknowledged that valuations would “pose a significant challenge” for council during its budget deliberations.
“We go into a full week of budget planning this week and this will includes rating considerations given that we have the valuations in hand,” he said.
“Unlike the last valuation of a couple of years ago, this one is across the board in every category, plus those two ag categories impacted last time at similar levels again.
“It’s quite incredible really – I’m not sure when/if in the past such large valuation increases have been repeated so immediately in the next valuation review.
“We’ll take into account all things and fully understand that ratepayers want their rates to be manageable.
“It will be a balance between keeping council sustainable and functioning against rate increases that are acceptable and responsible. There’s much work to do.”
AgForce CEO Michael Guerin is urging landholders to speak up about the valuations now, with objections needing to be lodged with the Valuer-General by 16 May.
“Unimproved values determine what council rates rural landholders pay and are also used to calculate leasehold rents, so it’s important the figures are right,” he said.
AgForce’s valuer John Moore said responsibility for ensuring values were correct lay with landowners, not local governments.
“Unimproved values are done by mass appraisal, meaning your property isn’t individually valued so errors can occur,” he said.
“It’s important you object to your new valuation if you believe the unimproved value is too high, because it could result in large savings in rates or rent.
Landowners who disagree with their valuation and are able to provide supporting information can lodge their objection online or at the address shown at the top of their valuation notice.
For those who do not have internet access, they can call 1300 664 217 to request an objection kit.