COMMUNITY ACTION: Residents irate over council rates
FRUSTRATED businesses and landlords have said enough is enough as they prepare to go head to head with council on what they deem “unreasonable and unfair” rate costs.
Warwick real estate agent Helen Harm said the council’s “lucrative money spinner” charges on water and toilet connections have led her to launch the community appeal.
Mrs Harm said the final straw was when her rates notices showed she had been charged twice for one water meter connection.
She said her Fitzroy St property incurred the double charges as it was used as both a business and residence.
The sole owner of the property said it was an unnecessary attack on small business.
“I have one connection, one sewerage line, I should only be paying one lot of rates,” she said.
“I asked a councillor if I closed down this business and turned it back to a house whether I would have to pay those fees and they said no. So I said, ‘What you’re saying is I should close business down.”
Mrs Harm, who said she was out of pocket $2000, was not alone in her anger.
Landlord Sue Giacosa owns multiple Warwick properties and said she “couldn’t understand” the logic behind the move, which had affected her income.
Notably, the notice would see her pay four times for one block of units.
“It’s not being done fairly,” she said.
“They’re not four individuals units, they’re one block with one inlay and outlay.
“With severe fire and drought and now coronavirus, it makes it that much harder not to stop and think, ‘Is it worth having anything anymore?’”
The complaints follow Mrs Harm’s ongoing battle with the council over pedestal charges, which are incurred for each toilet installed in a business.
A council spokeswoman said costs like pedestal charges helped pay for essential services such as roads, water, sewerage and waste management.
“Council believes that it is logical and equitable for all ratepayers who have access or may have access to cuncil’s sewer infrastructure to contribute to the fixed costs of the sewer operation through the access charge,” she said.
“The pedestal charge is applied to ensure fairness across the region for these services supplied.”
“They can’t keep kicking people like this … I don’t care if the previous council put this in place, it is this council that is collecting and it has got to be fair and equitable,” she said.
Mrs Harm said people power was the way forward.
“The only way to get things done is to get other people involved, because with me on my own, change is not going to happen.”