Coast at risk of rate hikes

A WAR of words among big business, councils and the State Government could see Fraser Coasters facing unscheduled hikes in their rates bills.

The spat is centred on last year’s surprise win in the Court of Appeal by a Gold Coast shopping centre that managed to reduce its valuation from $180 million to $47.9 million.

“Now more than 300 other commercial property owners are hoping for the same result,” Local Government Association executive director Greg Hallam said yesterday.

“Rate increases will occur where you have a major shopping or commercial centre and that could therefore include the Fraser Coast.

“Over three years Qld councils have collected $600 million in rates from shopping centres and the effect of these 300 litigants winning their court actions will effectively halve that revenue, so we’ll have to then make up the shortfall by increasing rates.”

To overturn the court decision the State Government suddenly introduced legislation last week that the Opposition says will see land tax increases of 20 to 40 per cent.

The legislation sets out to remedy the decision of the Appeal Court by retrospectively reimposing to 2002 the old valuation of commercial properties.

Instead of land just being valued as unimproved land, the legislation will see the value of leases and goodwill, plus any work done to the premises as an improvement, or to add value included in the valuation process.

“For business, this means proprietors will have little choice but to sack Queenslanders,” LNP Leader John-Paul Langbroek said.

Debate over the bill has now been put on hold until next week after an avalanche of protests from industry groups.

Local president of the Urban Development Institute of Australia, Daniel Poacher, is calling on all Fraser Coast developers and business proprietors in the region to contact their local member of parliament.

“They need to ask for an independent, public inquiry into the debacle associated with this urgent amendment to the Valuation of Land Act Amendment Bill.

“There has been so much concern expressed by our members, financial institutions, property owners and investors into this legislation that the public interest can only be served by clarifying beyond any doubt what will be the impact of the legislation.

“If the bill is not intended to change any valuation practices that have been in place for the last 10 years, why has there been such significant concern raised by many hundreds of private sector valuers in the last week?”

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