Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lawsuit Against Council over Brisbane Apartment Rates

BRISBANE unit owners have launched a Supreme Court challenge against the validity of the Brisbane City Council's rating parity factor scheme.

The scheme was introduced by Lord Mayor Campbell Newman in the 2008-09 Brisbane City Council Budget and has been strongly opposed by unit owners, particularly in inner city areas.

Paul Cassels and Darryl Penfold, the president and vice-president of the Brisbane Association for Rates Equity (BARE), filed documents in the Supreme Court in which they seek a court order declaring the new rates scheme unlawful and invalid. The action has been brought by Mr Cassels and Mr Penfold on behalf of all BARE members, who are owners of lots in community titles schemes in Brisbane.

Outside court Mr Cassels said the Lord Mayor had tried to set the rest of Brisbane against unit owners by declaring they were millionaire "penthouse owners".

He said that wasn't true and the BARE was made up of average people who were opposed to rate hikes of up to 500 per cent. "The actions of the Lord Mayor have been disgusting," he said.

Mr Cassels said he hoped the Lord Mayor would reconsider his stand before the matter had to go to a court hearing. He predicted the issue would be a major factor in the next state elections.

Mr Cassels said the parity factor was a controversial rating mechanism that dramatically increased the general rates on thousands of units and townhouses throughout the city along with commercial and retail strata title property.

He said while the initial impact of the scheme would be felt most in inner city and near city areas, the exponential value formula on which the scheme was based meant that every year more and more units throughout Brisbane would be automatically "caught." BARE has already been instrumental in a substantial re-working of the scheme.

However, BARE has made it clear that it wants the scheme dropped and the rates cap on owner-occupied CTS property (also removed last year as part of the parity scheme) reinstated immediately.

Source: Courier Mail

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