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Byron Shire
May 16, 2021

Ghetto tax

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David Froggatt, Ocean Shores

I just received my rates notice and was stunned to see the annual bill go up by about $500. On reading the accompanying literature I discovered that an increase in property values has led to a small part of the increase, and a new approach to sewer billing accounts to the rest, leading to lower water rates in the future, so not so bad.

However, I also noticed that the ordinary residential rate is calculated by multiplying your land value by a multiplier (0.001967). But if the result of that calculation is less than $928, then your bill is automatically raised to $928. So if your land value is less than $471,784 (the case for many people in less affluent areas in the Shire) you are actually subsidising those with more valuable property!

I thought this was a regressive tax, but Wikipedia says a regressive tax applies to everyone equally. This is, apparently, a ghetto tax. It penalises the less wealthy more than the wealthy.

While I am very fortunate to be in the position to partly own a home, with a bank, in this Shire, it still seems ‘off’ to be subsidising wealthy property owners. This sort of pricing structure affects renters too as it pushes up the running costs of less expensive housing, which are passed on via increased rents.

In a shire that cares about affordable housing and those lower down the economic ladder I would have thought that the multiplier would be slightly higher, with no minimum amount to pay on the general rate. This would mean that people with less valuable property would pay less than $928 and wealthier home owners would pay a bit more.

I reckon it’s time for a change.

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