Rate rise cops a serve

David Masters on his vacant block. Picture: Matt Jelonek www.communitypix.com.au d405031
David Masters on his vacant block. Picture: Matt Jelonek www.communitypix.com.au d405031

Owners of vacant blocks in the Shire will now face a jump of 8 per cent in their rates of the gross annual rental that the land might reasonably be expected to realise if let on a tenancy. That compares with a 6.8 per cent rise for those who have built on their properties.

The Shire announced the new vacant land category in its 2013-14 budget this month.

Shire CEO Rhonda Hardy said the Shire introduced the category to encourage land development.

But David Masters, whose Gooseberry Hill block is one of the 881 properties affected, is outraged.

‘In my opinion, I do not think it is fair to be charged a higher rate without getting extra services from the Shire,’ he said.

‘The Shire is a service provider; what extra service are they going to provide to those that are paying more for a vacant block of land?

‘I understand that they want people to develop the land and to stop developers from sitting on parcels of land, but I’m not a developer.

‘It is not the Shire’s role to direct social policy.’

The inflated land rate for vacant blocks is set to bring in about $1.25 million for the Shire.

Ms Hardy said it was still up to owners as to whether or not they chose to develop.

‘It is important to note that overall their rates are lower than that of a non- vacant property as the gross rental value is lower for a vacant block,’ she said.

‘The Shire acknowledges that for some vacant land owners their rates will be higher than in previous years.

‘This type of rating category has existed for a very long time in other councils, it simply has not been used by the Shire of Kalamunda.’