Land values may push rates up
INCREASED property valuations and their impact on the market have been playing on the minds of the real-estate savvy lately, with buyers sitting on the edge of their seats and sellers waiting anxiously for the market to take that gut-wrenching turn. Ipswich REIQ zone chairperson Peter Mendoza said the recent valuation increases in Esk, Laidley and Gatton Shires would probably be used by Council to calculate the area's annual rates for next financial year. The Department of Natural Resources and Water (NRW) released figures on Monday that showed Laidley Shire as the forerunner at 42 per cent, Esk Shire at 39 per cent and Gatton Shire at 36 per cent. But NRW Regional Services director Brian Vandersee said "a valuation increase doesn't automatically mean your rates will go up". "Rates are based on the services council intends to provide residents and how much revenue it needs to raise to pay for them. "Councils have wide-ranging powers under the Local Government Act to cap, minimise or average the rates they charge landholders. "The valuations, which take effect on June 30 this year, provide an annual snapshot of unimproved land values on October 1, 2006, and reflect the movement in the local property market since the last valuation was undertaken." Laidley's jump in valuations has been partly attributed to the Laidley-Plainland intersection development, which has opened access points to the region. Esk Shire Mayor Cr Graeme Lehmann said Council would review the Shire's valuations and would again put in place strategies to guard against variations in rates following the second valuation hike in a row. "We are bringing down our budget on 13 June this year, that's six weeks earlier than last year, so that people will know as early as possible what the effect of the State valuation increases will be," he said. "People should object directly to the Department of Natural Resources if they do not agree with their valuations. "People should keep in mind that the department doesn't look at houses or any other improvements on land, just what the land itself might be worth without any improvements."