Bridge tax refund likely

The specified area rate (SAR) is now in the process of repeal, meaning the City will likely refund a total of $536,000 to ratepayers.

Councillors unanimously voted to request the State Administrative Tribunal to quash the levy, which was applied to residents in the bridge’s catchment area.

Once SAT approves the repeal, the City will turn to lobbying Federal and State governments for funds towards this bridge.

The City recently reviewed the SAR following concerns raised by residents, many who were unhappy about paying for a bridge they say they would never use.

City chief executive Mike Foley said the review was not done before applying the SAR to residents in the catchment area because there was not sufficient time prior to the budget going to council.

The City initially expected the bridge to be fully funded by developer contributions but the move was challenged with the SAT, resulting in the City only being able to recover 41 per cent of the bridge cost.

‘The City received a letter from the Minister for Planning in March this year which indicated the bridge was still required,’ Mr Foley said.

‘The City’s budget process is already well advanced by March and this left the City with a short time frame to deliver a funding option.’

Council considered a range of options to raise funds for the bridge and decided on the SAR on May 7.

Ratepayers who have already paid the SAR will get a refund or can choose to leave this amount as a credit on their account to offset next year’s rates.

Mr Foley said while there were no guarantees, the City would now focus on lobbying State and Federal governments for bridge funding.

‘We understand there are various avenues the City can apply for funding and will be exploring the new National Strong Regions Fund. However, we cannot guarantee that funding will be available,’ he said.

‘If this funding cannot be obtained, the City will need to consider the future funding requirements as part of its annual budgeting process.’