MOVEMENT: Advance Roma members Steve Merrick, Laurie Fitzgerald and Diane Fitzgerald, stand in front of a vacant factory on Raglan street.
MOVEMENT: Advance Roma members Steve Merrick, Laurie Fitzgerald and Diane Fitzgerald, stand in front of a vacant factory on Raglan street. Rory Hession

Maranoa rates surge despite land revaluations

ADVANCE Roma, a resident-run organisation of business and land owners, is continuing its fight to give local residents and businesses a fair go.

Group representatives said they were disappointed with the rate increase in the 2017-18 Maranoa budget.

Most businesses represented in Advance Roma are in the industrial and commercial rates sector.

"Our land values have decreased by 30% but the council have increased our rate in the dollar by 19%,” an Advance Roma spokesperson said.

"Now the rural sector's valuations have gone up, but the council has decreased their rate in the dollar.

"All of this financial pressure for commercial and industrial businesses is leading to staff cuts and businesses closing.

"In the last seven years, the rate in the dollar in the industrial and commercial area has increased by 52%.”

Rates are calculated on each property by multiplying the value of the land by the rate in the dollar.

Advance Roma's Natalie Dingle said the group had fought to have the land revalued across the Maranoa because valuations were excessive from the boom years.

"The deputy valuer- general visited Roma last year and agreed our land valuations were excessive,” Mrs Dingle said.

"They have since been revalued and have come down approximately 30%.

"This had the potential to be of huge monetary benefit for both residents and business owners, if council froze the rate in the dollar.”

Mrs Dingle said Advance Roma met with the council several times.

"We were seeking council's assistance in freezing the rate in the dollar for a 12-month period to give the town a fair go,” she said.

Deputy mayor Jan Chambers said there were two key impacts on land valuations in the south-west.

"One was the result of the Surat Basin moving into a production phase, and property markets continuing to slope,” Cr Chambers said.

"The strengthening of beef commodity prices had a positive impact on rural values.”

Cr Chambers said calculating rates was difficult for the council.

"We know that there have been rates increases in the past as a result of significant rises in industrial land values in Roma,” she said.

"We are mindful also that for many years producers have been in drought and some areas of our region have still not had relief.

"We have tried to achieve the right balance across the rating categories.

"For those who have seen significant rates rises in the past, there will be some relief, and for rural, who have seen an overall increase in valuations, we have tried to keep the revenue for this category to an increase of 8.9%.”

The minimum general rate, cent in the dollar rate, and service charges will increase by an average of 3.37%.

The council said ratepayers needed to be aware that in each and every category there would be swings against the trend as a result of differing valuations, capping, minimums and banding.