Pinjarra caravan park owners speak out on Murray Shire rates blow-out

Two Pinjarra caravan park owners have spoken out about the Shire’s “misleading” annual rates, after they were hit with a $26,000 bill that left them running their business on a shoestring budget.

In July this year, the Shire of Murray announced local rates would go up on average 4.1 per cent due to Landgate’s Gross Rental Value revaluation, which occurs every four years. 

However, Pinjarra Caravan Park owners Oliver and Tracey Gillbard were shocked to find out their bill hadn’t gone up by 4.1 per cent.

Instead, it had gone up by 12.7 per cent, an increase three times higher than the advertised figure. 

“That’s a huge increase of $4,500,” Ms Gillbard said.

Mr Gillbard said the bill had put a strain in the caravan park’s finances, having to cut wages and staff back  in order to pay the bill.

“It’s simple, we are on a shoestring budget now to run our business,” he said.

“It will have to be our long-term tenants, who are mostly pensioners, who will have to foot the bill.”

The couple said the increase in rates came at a time when Pinjarra businesses were struggling and tourist numbers were down. 

“So for the council to be doing this and putting the rates up so much knowing that everyone’s income is down, I think it’s unconscionable really,” Ms Gillbard said. 

However, what mostly concerned the Gillbard’s is that, to them, the maths just didn’t add up. 

Rates debate: Shire chief Dean Unsworth says the 4.1 per cent relates to the rate the increase on the overall rates collected the previous year.

Rates debate: Shire chief Dean Unsworth says the 4.1 per cent relates to the rate the increase on the overall rates collected the previous year.

“They were saying that it’s 4.1 per cent, the brochure came out with the rates saying it had gone up by an average of 4.1 per cent and it’s not, it’s gone up 12.7 per cent,” Ms Gillbard said.

“So I don’t know where they are getting their figures from [but] I think they should be accountable for what they are doing.”

Shire of Murray chief Dean Unsworth said this year’s rates varied significantly across the district due to the revaluations on properties’ Gross Rental Values and Unimproved Values, which affected the Shire’s rate on the dollar.

The Shire’s rates for each home owner are calculated by multiplying the GRV for a standard rate in the dollar, which determined by the Shire and applied to all households in the region. 

Mr Unsworth said the 4.1 per cent didn’t relate to the rate in the dollar, but it represented the increase on the overall rates collected the previous year instead. 

“This increase is reflective of the funding necessary to ensure the community’s needs are met and to secure the district’s growth and prosperity for the future,” he said. 

He said fluctuations were generally consistent across the district, as the GRV was only reassessed every forth year.

But this year’s revaluation had resulted in rates increases and decreases across the shire.

“The revaluations this year however resulted in an average 4.1 per cent effect across the shire,” he said.