It was with much enthusiasm that I recently read an article entitled “Rate Relief For Region”.
Unfortunately by the time I got to the end of the article I realised that whilst the Cairns Regional Council was prepared to offer me an instalment plan to pay my hefty half yearly rates it was going to cost me, that is, they would be charging me interest. The longer I took to pay, the more they would charge me, much like using my credit card.
This in my humble opinion, is not what I call “relief”.
Councils use the U.C.V (unimproved capital value) of land as the base price to calculate annual council rates.
Without any doubt at all, properties in the Port Douglas, Mossman and all of the former Douglas Shire area have decreased in value.
The depreciation of property has been between 20% to 50% in some cases. The decrease in real value is related to both land and buildings.Whilst the Cairns Regional Council is happy to add interest to any rate relief they offer, the only way to get real rate relief is to prove the decrease in your U.C.V. Believe me this is not an easy task, even trying to ask questions about disputing the U.C.V has proved a mission and taken most of the day.
What we have established so far:
This process will entail the use of a Licensed Valuer. A quote to obtain this service needs to be obtained to ascertain if the exercise to be embarked upon is financially viable.
The concept is as follows:
(A) If your land has dropped in value then the U.C.V accordingly must decrease. (Please note: usually market prices are above U.C.V prices shown on your rate notice).
(B) If the Department of Environment and Resources agrees to a decrease in the U.C.V then the Cairns Regional Council has to adjust your rates, down, as a consequence of a decrease in the U.C.V
To make this happen will take effort on the rate payer’s behalf.
Firstly time is of the essence – you (the rate payer) only have a window of 45 days after the State Government Department of Environment and Resources releases the statutory land valuations to dispute the U.C.V.
To find out more, this is the link to the Department of Environment and Resources http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/
On the Government site you will find this statement:
“The Queensland Government has moved to delay the release of the 2011 statutory land valuations, following extreme weather across the state.”
Having made the call to the relevant Department of Environment and Resources, I have been told that I need to contact my local business centre which is Cairns. The number in case you wish to dispute your U.C.V is 07 4222 5480.
However, don’t be surprised if you are transferred to Townsville Business office, as I found out today Cairns Business office is so short staffed they are unable to take your call!!
Anyway I digress; the lovely receptionist in Townsville has informed me that the whole State will have new valuations issued around May/June, 2011. I was then told that a letter will arrive in the mail to each rate payer informing us of the new valuation. It is at this point you will need to call the Cairns Business office or go in there to get a form to dispute the valuation.
I asked the Townsville receptionist if the form was available online, but she didn’t think so!
Typically, it’s not easy to get answers from these Government Departments. Cynically, the end result may possibly be :
(A) We prove our U.C.V is to be decreased, and
(B) As a consequence of Cairns Regional Council realising their rate base is diminishing, they’ll probably increase the percentage of the U.C.V we pay and therefore keep our rates the same!