Danielle Brice - 23 May 2023
Danielle Brice presented to Council at the Public Access Session on 23 May 2023.
In your presentation to Council, you spoke to an email you had sent to Councillors Harrison and Grace (August 2022). In response to this email, I provide the following information.
I understand that your approved secondary dwelling is currently tenanted and to this end, I would like to offer Council’s appreciation for your provision of accommodation particularly when there is a demand for housing in our Shire.
Secondary dwellings (formerly known as granny flats) are the equivalent of dual occupancies in so far as water and sewer access charges are applied. The type of development, being dual occupancy or secondary dwelling, is differentiated only by the name of the charges shown on the rate notice - the amounts charged are the same.
The water and sewer access charges for properties with more than a single residence, have been in place for over 25 years, they are not new charges, whereas the mixed-use charges were newly adopted to bring those types of properties into line with the dual occupancy and secondary dwelling charges that were already in place for equity. It is for that reason that Council agreed to defer the implementation of the new mixed-use charges.
Water and sewer charges for properties with dual occupancy/secondary dwellings are 1.6 times the single residential charges and account for the increased demand that two dwellings place on Council’s water and sewer systems in comparison to that of a single residence. These charges are set to recover the cost of services provided and are based on the development type and the capacity requirements of the two dwellings.
When staff identify that a property is not being charged correctly, the charges are rectified from the following rate levy. This happens on a regular basis throughout the year. The notification of these changes is the issued rate notice. Council does not write to individual property owners when charges are being updated going forward. If landowners believe there is an incorrect charge when they receive their notice, they are able to contact Council to discuss within 30 days of the issue of the rate notice.
In response to your statement regarding the number of people residing at your property, the charges do not relate to how many people are living in the dwellings which as you can appreciate, could change at any given moment depending on circumstances. Secondary dwellings can also be used as Airbnb lettings and the number of people utilising the premises can again vary depending on the booking.
It should be noted that regardless of whether a secondary dwelling is being used by family, is vacant or drawing an income via a tenant or rental as an Airbnb, the increased water and sewer charges are applicable due to the fact that there are two residences on the one property.
It is essential for Council to regularly undertake reviews to ensure properties are charged correctly and equitably for the services they receive. A review undertaken in May 2022 highlighted properties that were being charged for single residential water and sewer provision but were clearly identified as having dual occupancy or secondary dwellings.
These properties should have been paying the higher charges for many years and following the review, it was considered appropriate to rectify the charges going forward, with no adjustment made to the charges for the prior years.
I note that your development consent (DA615/18) for the secondary dwelling, was conditioned for the installation of a rainwater tank. This condition does not relate to water and sewerage access charges but rather to planning controls.