The debate over rates in Wagga has reignited, with one homeowner questioning why she pays 33 per cent more annually for her Central property than another home she owns in one of Sydney’s most affluent suburbs.
Kathryn Fleming is slugged more than $2200 each year to pay rates on her Central property, with a land value of $245,000 – worth less than a third of her property in the affluent inner-Sydney suburb of Hunters Hill which attracts significantly lower rate charges.
The land her Hunters Hill property is sited on has been valued at $849,000, yet her yearly rates bill is only $1600. Ms Fleming says she gets more bang for her rate buck in Sydney than Wagga as well.
“We pay an exorbitant amount of rates (in Wagga) and they don’t even offer a council (bulky waste) pick-up, they don’t offer anything for that money,” she said.
“In Sydney they get two council pick-ups a year, in Wagga they give us a free tip day.”
But Wagga mayor Rod Kendall has defended the rates disparity, claiming Wagga City Council has numerous extra costs to cover Sydney councils aren’t burdened with.
“What is (Hunter’s Hill Council’s) total rural road distance? What’s their urban land mass compared with ours?” Cr Kendall said. “Comparatively they’ve got less urban roads and urban infrastructure to provide.”
As for the provision of council waste disposal services, which Ms Fleming claimed were lacking in Wagga, Cr Kendall said a review was currently under way with “all options on the table”.
“There is some significant interest in being able to book in a bulk pick-up,” he said.
Cr Kendall has found an unlikely ally in the rates debate in fellow councillor Julian McLaren.
Cr McLaren is a firm believer in keeping rates low, but has urged people to “get a grip on reality” in the current debate.
“I think people need to settle down and … understand there’s a cost on everything,” he said.
“It might cost more to deliver services in Wagga than Hunters Hill, because we’re a regional centre.”
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