Fury over govt land valuations
FRANK Covino has vowed to go all the way to the Supreme Court if he has to after his land valuation for the Caltex Truck N Travel skyrocketed from $250,000 in 2007 to $840,000 this year.
He is encouraging anyone who believes their recent State Government land valuation is incorrect to formally object before the cut-off date of May 6.
The highway service station owner cannot understand the huge rise and said the matter was now in the hands of his lawyers.
“Absolutely I’m going to object... I’m certainly not going to give up,” the Gold Coast-based Mr Covino said.
When he first saw the notice, he thought it was a mistake.
“Mate, I’ll be honest I was very dismayed, I thought surely this is not right,” Mr Covino said.
“They are classifying Warwick as closer to the city areas where the land values are greater; they’ve put it in that bundle which is wrong.
“Just a couple of short years ago it was $250,000 and I wasn’t going to argue with that. Going from $250,000 to $840,000 is just totally mad.”
State valuations are used to calculate council rates and government land tax.
Rose City Shoppingworld centre manager Jason Gard said the centre was valued “just over a year ago” and jumped more than five times to $14 million.
But with the most recent valuations, it has jumped again from $14M to $18.25M, with the centre among 200 involved in a legal class action against the State Government.
Mr Gard wanted to assure tenants that Rose City Shoppingworld was unable to pass what will likely be a rise in land tax onto lessees.
“Under the retail leases act for Queensland, land tax can’t be recovered from the tenants,” he said.
“Normally for a lease tenants pay their rent plus what we call outgoings – the costs for running the shopping centre. Land tax can’t be included in the outgoings.
“Basically because of the valuations the highest increase in cost will be the land tax and that will be payable by the landlord.”
Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) State Valuation Service south-west region area manager John Thomas yesterday told the Daily News if people had an issue with their land valuations rise, they needed to complete a formal objection before May 6.
“Valuations aren’t perfect and there are always going to be instances where things aren’t correct,” Mr Thomas said.
“We get plenty of instances where there are issues relating to sales. There are issues that we certainly haven’t been made aware of and that’s what the objection process is for.
“People need to put an objection stating their reasons and DERM will look at that.”
Mr Thomas said there were four valuers assigned to the Southern Downs region and they calculated the new land valuations by looking at property sales which had occurred since the last valuation round.
WADE First National Real Estate owner Stuart Wade said from the anecdotal evidence before him, the land valuations across the Warwick district appeared to have risen out of proportion with market values.
“The market hasn’t jumped that much since the last valuation,” Mr Wade said.
Southern Downs Mayor Ron Bellingham said he was aware of a number of the spikes through the industrial area where Tilkey – which was featured in the Daily News last month for an almost-500 per cent rise – and the Caltex Truck N Travel are based.
“That whole area through there has escalated by about 450 per cent and that is difficult for those people to accept; I certainly understand that,” Councillor Bellingham said.
He said during the next two months council would work on the new ratings system for the region.
“There will be some intense work done to try to evolve a system that can cope with the new valuations,” Cr Bellingham said.
“Under the differential system there is the opportunity to adjust and certainly I would expect averaging to be incorporated in the new model which would allow any rises or falls to be phased in essentially over three years.”
Council currently averages valuation rises over three years to smooth out spikes in rates.
“That would be one tool we would be able to use to manage such a large variation,” Cr Bellingham said.
He said he did not see it as a council role to lobby DERM about the spikes.
“If people have concerns they definitely should put in an objection ... there is a process and they need valid reasons why they object,” Cr Bellingham said.
“It’s not a role necessarily for council but council will and has undertaken to communicate with the valuer general the concerns that have been raised with us.”
Warwick Chamber of Commerce president John Randall said the chamber was also aware of “a significant number of anomalies in the recent valuations process”.
“We have received numerous anecdotal reports of significant variations in our members’ valuations which will have a serious impact on local business viability and potential employment in our region,” Mr Randall said.
This matter was discussed at length at the chamber meeting earlier this week.
“It was resolved that the best way that the chamber can assist businesses and commercial property owners is to communicate directly to council our concerns,” Mr Randall said.
“It was also resolved chamber members who feel they have not been treated fairly by DERM in the valuation process, should submit a properly-researched objection.
“While the chamber acknowledges the valuation process is outside council’s sphere of influence, we will be communicating to the SDRC and its councillors the need to give due consideration in their deliberations on the proposed new rating model and its subsequent impact on the local business community.”