PLAYFORD residents have breathed a sigh of relief after elected members unanimously voted down a proposed rate increase this week, which would have seen some residents suffer increases of double and triple the current amounts.
Playford Council voted to keep the rating policy the same at a special meeting on Tuesday evening, in front of a gallery of around 300 residents.
The vote followed council’s rate review, which proposed three options – a rate freeze at the current level for the next five years; keeping the existing policy; or making an alteration to how rates are distributed.
The rate redistribution option proposed significant increases to residents with homes worth over $250,000, with vacant land
and with primary production land.
This was in attempt to reduce residential rates for home owners with houses valued at under $250,000, and with rates for commercial properties.
Over 1600 locals provided submissions either verbally or in writing, with over 1000 supporting the no change option.
At the meeting, councillor Joe Federico put forward a motion for the rating policy to remain unchanged, due to the redistribution option being modelled on the “flawed premise of capacity to pay”.
“I have been to a lot of meetings and I’ve heard a lot of people talk and what I have learnt is that nobody has a monopoly on hardship,” he said.
“We made a mistake…(to assume) that the value of your property determines your capacity to pay.
“Somebody who is struggling in Davoren Park, who is struggling to pay their bills, doesn’t have the capacity to pay.
“Somebody with a $400,000-plus mortgage, or anyone with a mortgage…hasn’t got the capacity to pay.
“The value of your property does not mean you have disposable cash at hand.”
Councillor Michael Joy, who had previously stated publicly on a Facebook community page his intention of voting in favour of the distribution change, unexpectedly supported Cr Federico.
“This may come as a surprise to most of the people who are here tonight, but I actually do support option three (the rating policy staying the same),” he said.
“Somebody who is making money from their land needs to pay the same rate as somebody else who is making money from their land.
“I cannot tell the difference between a farm making money and a retail shop in Elizabeth making money.
“I do feel for the people who are on primary-producing land who are not making money from their property, and option one is unfair to them.”
The rating policy will remain unchanged, with Playford Council now expected to further review its policy in the next 12 months, with some alternative options expected to be tabled thereafter.