Redland ratepayers fed up with Council charges

Raby Bay canal repair work

Raby Bay canal repair work

The high cost of local Council rates and other charges is concerning many in Redland City but one group is getting very frustrated. Home owners at Raby Bay in Cleveland are fed up with above average rate rises and huge levies for canal repairs.

The Raby Bay Ratepayers’ Association  is saying that their members just want to be treated fairly, get value for money and have Council make decisions transparently. In the face of no response from the Redland City Council, the Association recently took their members’ plight to the ABC Televsion and 7:30 Queensland. The resulting investigation by ABC journalist Kathy Mcleish led to a story which aired on 11 July 2014 titled “Residents plead for relief from rates hikes” .

What Happened?

Raby Bay canals

Raby Bay canal wall

In brief,  the Raby Bay Ratepayers’ Association says a series of reports, commissioned by the Redland City Council over the years, detail on-going and costly problems with the faulty construction of the canal walls.

The 7:30 Report included comments by a Council representative arguing that when the canal estate was designed it was to the best engineering standards (at that time).  Council was also reported to acknowledge that structural failures are due to the lands being tidal and so “there will be failures from time to time” and further asserts “it’s not a failure of engineering standards or anything it’s just one of those things that occurs over time”.

So the best practice engineering standards applied at Raby Bay seem to have resulted in massive costs for residents. Residents rightly ask: What happened?

The developer had paid for repairs to canal walls only until 1995 according to a 1999 Council Report . The Council then assumed responsibility for the ‘public’ part of the waterways from the concrete headwalls into the canals and took a bond of $1.5 million from the developer to pay for any future repairs.

It seems that by 1998, the total cost of repair work had exceeded the value of the bond but further work still had to be done. Local residents say that Council, instead of accepting its financial responsibility, has forced property owners to fund the rising bill for what many believe to be a failure of the Council to adequately supervise the original design and construction of the canal works.  In addition Council did not properly assess the ongoing costs of maintenance and repairs.

Concerns about rates?

The original ‘canal charge’ on each property appears to have started at about $100 a year. This year it will be almost $2,200 a year. Council predicts that costs will reach be more than $4,000 a year in less than a decade.

These high ‘canal charges’ come on top of huge increases in General Rates. In the last two years, Raby Bay General Rates have increased over $1,400 per year. The Raby Bay Ratepayers’ Association is not aware of any comparable residential properties in Australia that pay such high General Rates and Charges.

Raby Bay canal

Council maintains it is working with the Raby Bay Ratepayers’ Association and engineering firms to find the cheapest way to do this work cost effectively moving forward so it is a collaboration of a range of experts as well as the community. Not unreasonably the Ratepayers’ Association wants Council to collaborate more closely on how the money is spent, given that its members are footing the bills.

Also of concern to Raby Bay homeowners is a Council Report which found the repair bill could be cut from as much as $30,000 a metre to just $1,000 a metre by fixing the banks before they slipped. The technical and engineering solutions are probably both complex and costly but Raby Bay residents feel they are being shunned by Council officers and the Mayor.  Recently, Council’s response to the Association’s correspondence appears to have ‘dried up”.

The Ratepayers’ Association now feel they are faced with a wall of silence and are concerned that Council seems to have a record of withholding technical advices from the community.  This seems to mirror the Council’s approach when the community sought the release of technical reports underpinning the proposed development scheme for both Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek Priority Development Areas (or PDA’s) .  Different issues ..yes! but the process failures by both the Mayor and senior officers is seemingly the same.

It is a feeling other community groups know full well.  Is there need for a unifying community voice, one that can hold the Council to account?

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10 thoughts on “Redland ratepayers fed up with Council charges

  1. Southern Moreton Bay Island ratepayers are fed up with this council continuing to charge rates under the SMBI rate categories as the previous Hobson led council but have reduced the annual infrastructure spend on these same islands by more than half. A change in this situation has continually been requested by island ratepayers but never addressed by the present Williams led council as they needed these funds to post a surplus to promote themselves as so called good managers. To give an example the first year of the Hobson led council the annual SMBI infrastructure spending topped over $4million dollars the first year followed by approx $3.5 miliion each year after. In the Williams term this has dropped to $1.6 then nothing in the final year as recorded in the annual reports for all residents to see for them selves. There is no wonder so many Redland rate payers are fed up with this Mayor and her team not listening to them.

  2. Believe me R.K.Ridgeway your rates are not subsidising the Raby Bay residents they pay well and above their fair share , it is the so called Tidal Levy that is being objected to as the waterway is used by everybody .
    Maybe even yourself?

  3. If you cant afford to live at Raby Bay, sell. Not happy about my rates subsidising your lifestyle.

    • I don’t live at Raby Bay anymore since last year but I did for more than 6 years (not due to the high rates) however, you need to look at the big picture the canal system is a public throughfare for boaties past houses, just like the public use a car on a road it needs maintenance. Of course if a pothole
      occurs out the front of your place would you like to foot the bill no I would think not.

      Your rates aren’t subsidising Raby Bay residents quite the reverse, the general rates is rated according to the land value no matter where you live and then in addition to the land value general rates which we all pay, then the Raby Bay Residents also pay additional costs for canal levy which is in effect double dipping. It would be like charging you a general rate on your property and then asking you to pay an additional road/footpath levy of $2,000 each year. It is an unfortunate situation and a costly one, that I don’t have an answer too, but you need to look at both sides. The collapse or failing of canal walls have nothing to do with the owners but the developers and council at the time. At the time a contract was argeed that the council would look after the maintenance issues for the future and were given substantial monies to provide this service, but in turn the Council have given the residents the bill. The Raby Bay residents aren’t questioning the rateable land value but the extra cost of canal levy which is a separate issue and cost.

    • I strongly disagree with your comment that you are subsidising Raby Bay resident lifestyles. I used to live at Raby Bay and did so for 6 years (we moved last year but the reason was not due to the rates).

      The whole issue that the Raby Bay residents have is not the amount of general rates they pay which is on the value of the land (which we all pay) but the canal levy. So in addition to general rates they are hit again with a canal levy which can be can be upwards of $2000 a year. As a past resident you can see the frustration as the waterways are essentially like a road but for boats which is accessible by the public. For example if a pot hole occurred out the front of your house would you like to foot the bill each and everytime it failed I would think not.

      Why should Raby Bay residents have to pay continual repairs that were flawed from the get go, the developer signed off all responsibility and gave any future finanical and physical maintenance to the Council to maintain and were given funds to do so. I’m sure you enjoy the benefits of the parklands and harbour that Raby Bay is on, its development has made Cleveland what it is today. There is no easy solution but unfortuntely the repairs is going to be a continual maintenance issue. Just like the continual maintenance of all our roads, waterways, parklands, etc which the Raby Bay residents pay for too, not just you.

  4. The easy fix hear would be to resume 3 metres of land from the wall back into the properties and path the lot so all residents of the Redknds could walk around Raby Bay and then Council would have to take ownership of the walls and do the repairs, the Raby Bay residents who do not want this done should pay up and shut up.

  5. many Southern Moreton Bay Island owners pay a total annual rates bill at higher levels than Raby Bay owners when property valuations are taken into account try over $5,000.00 per year rates bill for a vacant block of land with a valuation of $145,000 and the only service supplied is water connected.

  6. OUCH, how is it that one small part of the Redlands shire has to pay such exorbitant rates and charges?? the ENTIRE shire benefits from this develeopment – from the enhanced access to the bay, to the increased amenity value of the Cleveland area, the parks, the Raby Bay Marina area… Is the Council hoping to chase out most of the ‘normal’ citizens from living here and increase the percentage of exceedingly wealthy and overseas (and often absentee) owners? Increases of $1400 a YEAR for the last 2 years – what about the significant increases over the past 10 years… And yes, the cost of operating this shire should be shared more equitably across the shire. Most of our rates cover the same basic services which do not change by value of the property.

  7. Raby Bay property owners are not the only group in Redlands that are fed up with extortionate rates charged by this council. Try to absorb having to pay over $5,000 per year on a block of residential land with only water service, dirt road and no additional council services with a rate able value of $180,000. this makes the Raby Bay annual charge look like good value. And where do you think this property is located?, the southern Moreton Bay islands, namely Russell but all islanders are treated the same way by council applying a very low value against the general rate charge then apply a high factor against the remaining value of the property. We all need to work together on this one to force council to apply a fair and equitable method across the whole of the Redlands. If they don,t listen then make sure they understnd the outrage at the next election.

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