THE rates are too high in South Gippsland, they say, and according to local real estate agents, people from outside the area often do a ‘double take’ when they see how much rates apply to a property they are looking at buying here.
“Are these rates in arrears? they’ll often ask,” said guest speaker, real estate agent George Auddino.
It was among the issues canvassed at a wide-ranging discussion by members of the South Gippsland Action Group last Tuesday night.
This was no rabble-rousing session of accusations and protest.
The members of the group came along to discuss how the shire might extricate itself from its present mess and get on with the job of serving the community.
And they have a practical idea for progressively reducing the level of rates over time.
They want the shire to cut the red tape and amount of time taken to get new residential land to the market and also to attempt to change its reputation within the residential land development sector that “you can’t do business with the South Gippsland Shire”.
Local council commentator John McCombe initiated the debate saying if council wasn’t prepared to drive efficiency in its own operation to reduce rates, it needed to broaden the rate base by encouraging development.
“We’ve got to change the culture of the shire administration towards one that helps investors and developers to open up more residential land. The demand is certainly there,” he said.
Two local real estate agents, George Auddino of Auddino First National in Korumburra and Alan Steenholdt of Alex Scott in Leongatha agreed demand for new homes sites was strong.
“I’d like to see the shire fast-track residential development and housing projects as a priority. The cost of rates on vacant land is also too high,” he said.
A question and answer session followed with action group member Gus Blaauw questioning the cost of the Great Southern Rail Trail extension to Korumburra and whether this project should be a priority for council.