Ratepayers have been dealt another blow, with confirmation new land valuations will not be deferred as hoped.
To alleviate sharp increases on some ratepayers resulting from the use of the new valuations during COVID-19, Penrith Council wrote to the State Government seeking permission to delay the new valuations, due to come into effect on July 1.
However, Local Government Minister Shelly Hancock advised Council it couldn’t be done, saying she has no powers under the Local Government Act to intervene in the land valuation process.
“Whilst the average valuation increase for all residential properties was 19 per cent, different residential suburb valuation increases ranged from one per cent for Jordan Springs up to 78 per cent for Kemps Creek,” a report tabled at Monday night’s Ordinary Council meeting shows.
The new land valuations, which are issued by the NSW Valuer General every three years, coincide with a 2.6 per cent rate peg rise for 2020-21 set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), which Council also formally adopted on Monday night.
Multiple Councillors expressed sympathy for rural ratepayers, suggesting Council write to the Valuer General about the way in which rural land in the Sydney basin was particularly affected.
“I think the way the land valuations are calculated, there seems to be some anomaly that they can increase by 30 per cent and in some cases 70 per cent, which just seems ludicrous …in such a short period of time,” Councillor John Thain said.
Councillor Kevin Crameri was disappointed Council did not adopt a base rate, which he said would have seen urban residents hit with a $150 to $200 increase, but which would have provided a $1,500 to $2,000 reprieve to rural ratepayers.
“They have now got to find $6,000 per year in rates. four to five times what people in town are paying,” he said of the rural ratepayers in Llandilo, most of whom are pensioners.
Council has vowed to continue to agitate for change and a fairer system, including urgently re-writing to the NSW Premier and also raising the issue at this years’s Local Government conference.
Meanwhile, Council’s Director of Corporate Services Andrew Moore indicated some relief could be in store, after the State Government finally revealed which IPART recommendations it plans to adopt.
He said discussions around the introduction of sub-category rates was of particular interest, however the proposal to move solely to a base rate was not supported by the State Government.
Council has strengthened its hardship policy in the wake of COVID-19 to assist struggling ratepayers.
Alena Higgins is the Weekender’s Senior News Reporter, primarily covering courts and Council issues.