Land valuations deliver financial hit to rural residents

Rural residents gathered at Llandilo this week to discuss the latest rate increases. Photo: Megan Dunn.
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Rural property owners say they feel powerless in a never ending battle against a ‘grossly unfair system’.

Over the past few weeks owners have begun receiving their rate notices, with astronomical price increases coming as no surprise.

Despite yet another blow, rural community spokespeople, Castlereagh resident Mary Vella, Mario Pace from Berkshire Park and Elise Tedesco from Mt Vernon are not giving up their fight for a fairer system.

“One quarter of our rates covers a whole year’s rates for the base rates in Penrith and yet we barely have sealed roads, we don’t have kerb and guttering and we are constantly fighting for basic maintenance,” Ms Vella said.

Due to the new land valuations that were applied from July 1, all rural landholders’ rates have significantly increased, with Llandilo hit the worst.

Council announced in May it would implement the standard 2.6 per cent rate rise set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, despite the pandemic.

Mayor Ross Fowler defended the increase and said if it were to not go ahead Council services would be reduced, putting projects on the back burner that were budgeted according to the rate rise.

Council did however apply twice to the NSW Government and Valuer General to have the new land valuations delayed 12 months, although this was denied.

An application was submitted to the Premier, which was referred to the Minister for Water, Property and Housing.

A formal reply has not yet been received, however a spokesperson from Penrith Council said the NSW Valuer General has indicated Council’s requests would not be adopted.

“Property owners who believe their land valuations are too high should contact the Valuer General’s office to object to their land valuation,” the spokesperson said.

Ms Vella, among other residents, applied for a valuation review, which was knocked back last week.

Now, residents will be eagerly awaiting the Office of Local Government to implement the Government’s response to the IPART rating review report, which will allow Council to vary a rate for each area.

Penrith Councillor and Llandilo resident Kevin Crameri, whose rates went up $1500, said this must be implemented before the next rate notices are issued in March next year.

“A great majority of people out here are self-funded retirees, or on the pension and bought this land when it was cheap 40 years ago,” he said.

A spokesperson from the Office of Local Government indicated they are working to implement the new system in response to the IPART report, “including legislative amendments to create additional rating categories and sub-categories”.

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