Councillor Rashelle Predovnik with her revocation motion.

Move to overturn vacant land tax increase motion

Five city of Swan councilllors are supporting a revocation motion to overturn the vacant land tax increase motion which passed in February.
March 7, 2024
Anita McInnes

CITY of Swan council will get to again debate the option of increasing vacant land tax rates by 30 per cent after five councillors signed a revocation motion following the original motion passing due to the mayor’s casting vote.

Councillor Rashelle Predovnik is trying to have the motion revoked with councillors Charlie Zaninno, Rod Henderson, Evia Aringo and Jagdip Singh agreeing to help make up the five signatures she needed to get the revocation motion presented to the council in April.

When putting up the original motion, Whiteman ward councillor Dave Knight said the reason behind it was the housing crisis and the need to increase urban infill by encouraging vacant landholders to develop their land, and that it would bring the city into line with other local government areas and generate an estimated $1.5 million extra per annum.

In his newsletter deputy mayor Ian Johnson said he was happy to support Cr Knight’s motion at the February 14 council meeting as the proposal would discourage land banking, particularly at a time of a housing crisis, and would support the city’s tree canopy targets.

Cr Johnson said vacant blocks in residential areas were associated with illegal dumping and antisocial behaviour so with the early development of vacant blocks the council could improve the amenity of the area.

“This will not impact the vast majority of ratepayers but it will impact investors who have been sitting on vacant blocks for years, with no plans to develop,’’ he said.

“It need not apply to people buying a block in a residential estate and waiting to build.’’

He said if the revocation motion was not successful, the vacant land rate would go into the modelling for the city’s 2024-25 budget.

“The budget will go out for public submissions before it is adopted.

“There will be the opportunity to ensure this does not affect people who are sitting on vacant land for reasons beyond their control, such as significant delays on their home builds due to an overheated construction market.’’

He said the March 8, 2023 report to the council said impacts of an increased land tax could be mitigated by the rate not applying once a building license was lodged.

“It need not apply to people buying a block in a residential estate and waiting to build.”

Cr Predovnik said there was no guarantee exceptions would be given to people with a building licence or circumstances beyond their control.

“What council actually supported was a 30 per cent rate rise for residential and commercial vacant blocks, with no exemptions given to anyone,” she said.

“This means, the owners of these blocks will be hit by a 30 per cent rate hike, regardless of their personal circumstances.”

She said if the motion was not revoked, thousands of affected people would be blindsided by a massive rate rise they didn’t even know was on the agenda.

“There’s been no proper research, investigation or information gathered about these vacant blocks from property owners for council to consider in a briefing before this proposal went to council again,” she said.

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