Furore over special charges

Cr Jim Mason. (Ivan Kemp) 307764_02

Portarlington property owners will potentially pay tens of thousands of dollars for the sealing of their street after Geelong council flagged its intention to go ahead with a special rates and charges scheme (SRC).

After the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) canvassed Portarlington residents for support for sealing roads under an SRC, Park Street was the only street to receive majority support, with owners of six of the 11 properties giving it the nod.

The property owners will be jointly responsible for paying $328,165.50 of the project’s $437,554 cost, with the City contributing $109,388.50.

James Taylor, who owns two adjacent properties in Park Street and does not support the scheme, would be charged the highest amount – $78,804.75 – if it goes ahead.

The lowest charge to a property owner under the SRC would be $12,946.49.

At last week’s council meeting Mr Taylor questioned the fairness of the cost apportionment methods applied by City officers to come up with the individual charges to owners.

”How does Council reconcile its proposal to impose a special rate of almost $80,000, which is equivalent to more than 20 years of the annual general rate on my home… with the general cost of living reduction measures being adopted by governments and councils throughout Australia?” Mr Taylor asked.

“And would the implementation of such a special rate demonstrate that Council is out of touch or contemptuous of its constituents?

“How can council justify imposing a special rate on my property of $80,000, which is a quarter of the total property holder contributions for the scheme, whereas the property on the other side of the road, which enjoys a similar frontage to Park Street as mine, is to be levied with only $12,946.49?”

Councillor Jim Mason, who moved the motion, emphasised there would be an ongoing process where property owners could submit their concerns to the council and subsequently take the matter to VCAT if they remained unsatisfied with the outcome.

“The majority support garnered through this exercise was done so with each property owner understanding their contribution costs,” Cr Mason said.

Geelong mayor Trent Sullivan said he had a “history of concern with SRCs” and was ultimately one of three councillors – alongside Crs Belinda Moloney and Eddy Kontelj – who voted against the intention to declare.

“This is an extreme cost that may be borne by the ratepayers if this is fully declared at the end,” he said.

Visit yoursay.geelongaustralia.com.au/SRC/park-street-portarlington to stay up to date with the Park Street road upgrade.