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City of Swan: Local Rural Planning Strategy

Swan residents claim rates system is unfair

By Claire Ottaviano

CITY of Swan rates will come under the microscope this financial year after a review of the City’s rating system was placed on the chief executive’s performance targets list.

But rural residents fighting inconsistent ratings in rural areas said the target is just a means to an end, with all properties expected to move to the GRV rating system eventually.

Brigadoon rural ratepayer Karen Mowat said she had been unfairly rated as a Gross Rental Value (GRV) rated property for the past eight years thus paying thousands more than her Unimproved Value (UV) rated neighbours.

“We have a council who have acknowledged there are rural rating inequities, but instead of doing something its gone onto the chief executive’s KPI’s,” she said.

“When you look at the KPI’s it doesn’t even mention rural.

“We all know the City of Swan intend to change everybody to GRV.

“I’m under no illusion of what the end result will be.”

Performance targets are the chief executive’s key priorities and are revised by council annually.

Chief executive Jeremy Edwards was given his first performance targets (KPIs) recently after taking over the top job from long-serving chief executive Mike Foley earlier this year.

The targets also include a review of council meeting governance, meeting procedures and council briefings, a review of the New Junction business plan and its future funding options, strengthening the City’s communication and branding through a new social media strategy and completing a review of the City’s rating system.

The GRV represents the gross annual rental that a property might reasonably be expected to earn annually if it were rented while the UV is the value of land only, where the land is predominately used for rural purposes.

In August, Cr Charlie Zannino asked if the chief executive would resolve “unacceptable inequities” and allow residents unfairly shifted to the GRV to return to the UV category until definitions of ‘rural’ were defined as a part of the Local Government Act 1991 review.

The chief executive advised the City’s review of its method of valuation was on hold until after the Local Government Act review was legislated.

Despite the selected rating method, it hasn’t taken away the frustration of many rural residents being charged more than their neighbours who have the exact same property use and receive the same services.

“If you can’t change us back to UV, give us a rural residential preferential rate under GRV,” Ms Mowat said.

“Is it fair that those of us who have been caught up in this bureaucratic red tape are left paying higher rates but receiving the same reduced services as our rural neighbours?”

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