Playford backs off rate grab

Playford councillors unanimously voted against increasing land rates for primary producers and residents whose homes are worth more than $250,000 at a special council meeting held on June 13, in what was coined by local Angle Vale resident, Don Auchote, as “rats jumping off the ship.”

The council has never been subject to such a large amount of community backlash over a proposed rate change, and the vote in favour of keeping rates at the current level was welcomed with loud cheering and applause by a packed gallery, of more than 300 people.

The controversial draft Rating Policy was first brought to the public’s attention by one local Angle Vale resident.

By posting publicly on Facebook groups, ‘Everything Angle Vale’ and ‘Everything Virginia and Surrounds’, the information was able to get through to a considerable number of people.

These first initial posts on social media attracted a massive response from local residents, and community groups, Angle Vale and Districts Progress Association and the Virginia Residents Action Group, launched a successful campaign to notify and inform individuals how to make a submission to council in protest of the rate increase.

More than 1700 submissions were made, and the collective voice of the community was heard loud and clear by councillors who admitted they had made a mistake.

In a bid to reduce commercial rates, some homeowners and primary producers would be hit hard, and Cr Michael Joy, who was previously in favour of this option, conceded on the evening, this was unfair.

Cr Carol Muzyk provided well-researched statistics on the value of homes in various suburbs within the Playford council area and the average income of homeowners, illustrating the value of a residence does not determine the annual income of the homeowners and their ability to pay higher land rates.

Ms Muzyk highlighted the need to review the current rating policy to make it both fair and equitable whilst also drawing attention to the concern raised on the public consultation undertaken and the need for it to be addressed.

“We made a big mistake, we didn’t involve the community,” Cr Max O’Reilly said.

Speaking after the meeting, Cr Peter Rentoulis was grateful his colleagues voted against the rate increase.

“This is one of the occasions where ‘people power’ had a significant victory,” he said.

“However, as happy as we all should be that the council decided to keep the status quo, we also need to recognise commercial rates in the City of Playford are too high and need to be reduced in the near future.”

“I look forward to working with my colleagues to bring something back that is more fair and equitable, and does not unfairly target any group of residents or rate payers,” he said.

Playford Mayor, Glenn Docherty, said “council listened and heard our
community.”

“The majority of submissions didn’t want to change the rating policy and we voted accordingly.”

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