Council pulls a swiftie on rates

THE council has come under fire for a "sneaky" rates increase on investment properties in the region.

The new rates category of non-owner-occupier will see owners of properties in the region beyond their primary place of residence being charged.

Moreover, they will be charged a higher amount than typical residential property owners.

Maryborough Citizens and Ratepayers Association chairman Alan Wetton was outraged by the decision.

"It is a sneaky little way of putting up the rates, and unjustifiable in the current economic climate," Mr Wetton said.

"There are no costs to the council from these properties that justify this. It will disadvantage investors and renters both. I am pretty angry about it."

Mr Wetton said it would be reasonable to think people paying rent on the Fraser Coast could expect to be charged more as investment property owners passed on their additional costs from the new rates category.

Mr Wetton, who works in property with LJ Hooker in Maryborough, estimated that new rates would affect about 35% of properties in the region.

Bill Manning in Hervey Bay is one property owner to be hit by the new rates.

Mr Manning's family trust owns a unit in Pulgul St, which he says is not a rental property as it is only used for the family.

"I felt like I should have been getting a reduction in my rates rather than an increase because we haven't used the garbage collection there for 12 months," he said.

Mr Manning said the property was "not for rent, and never has been."

Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell said the funds raised from the new rates category would be targeted towards special regional projects, designed to ultimately increase investment in the region.

"The funding will allow council to improve high profile spaces and places across the region which in turn will make the Fraser Coast more attractive to potential investors and new residents," Cr O'Connell said.

"Some of the projects include the development to the aviation hubs in Hervey Bay and Maryborough and enhancements of the Mary River and esplanades and attraction strategies.

We believe very firmly that council will add value to investors' properties through these investment activities."

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