Valuations cut after objections

ONE in four Southern Downs objections to State Government valuations has been successful, with one Killarney landholder saving $1000 on her rates bill by objecting, the Daily News can reveal.

The controversial valuations caused a wave of discontent in the region in April with some Warwick properties seeing five-fold increases in their unimproved capital values.

Inflated values catapulted many over land tax thresholds and added to the strain of council’s new region-wide differential rating system, as rates were calculated on the new values.

According to the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) South West Region State Valuation Service area manager John Thomas, about 23 per cent of the valuation objections received in Southern Downs have resulted in a reduction in some form.

“Due to privacy considerations the department cannot discuss individual cases; however, some of the reasons for a reduction in the Southern Downs included the impact of heritage values, flooding potential and relativity issues (that is the value of similar properties of the same type in the area),” Mr Thomas said.

Objections, which have now closed, are still being considered by DERM but it said most of its decisions were made by the end of August.

However the majority of those lodged in the south of the region, hit hardest, are yet to receive an answer.

One Killarney landholder, who did not want to be named, said her valuation was four times higher than the previous figure.

An initial letter from DERM said her objection was rejected but in August she received a new valuation, even lower than her initial one.

She claims it has reduced her rates bill by about $1000 and said she was glad she appealed.

DERM said out of 19,613 new land valuations issued in the Southern Downs, 262 lodged “properly made” objections, which is only about 1.3 per cent of the total issued.

A spokesman said the objections process gave landowners “a chance to provide information that may not have been available to valuers when making the valuations”.

However, controversial changes were made to the objection process this year, which the Queensland Bar Association slammed for making it more difficult and less transparent for objectors.

The QBA claims in future objecting landowners would need to seek professional legal and valuer advice to back up their case – including full details of all recent sales in their area – calling such a requirement “unrealistic and unfair”.

In a letter to the Premier, the association president Richard Douglas said the QBA accepted that an objector should specifically state the reasons for objecting, but that the changes went “too far”.

“Indeed, the whole purpose of the (amendments) seems to be to actively discourage landowners from lodging objections unless they incur the expense of seeking professional valuation and/or legal advice,” the letter states.

The Bligh Government is yet to decide if it will further review the legislation.

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