HUNDREDS CHALLENGE LAND VALUATIONS
By TOBY WALKER
THE Carr Government's contentious land tax amendments have prompted Clarence Valley residents to raise hundreds of objections questioning the accuracy of their most recent land valuations.
Although the Valuer General has already admitted to 22 valuation errors being made on properties in Minnie Water and Diggers Camp, the objections have come from all corners of the Valley.
So far the Grafton office of the Department of Lands has registered 601 objections to the 2004 valuations conducted by Southern Cross Valuation Services.
The number might sound high but Ken Mackenzie, the land data manager for the Northern Region, was expecting more from an estimated total of 23,350 in the Clarence Valley.
He said the office had been expecting at least twice, if not three times as many protests to the valuations in light of the widespread criticism directed toward the new land tax provisions.
But with the latest valuations contributing to across-the-board increases in land tax bills, the number of objections was roughly double that usually received after a normal valuation period.
Mr Mackenzie said each objection would be assessed by an independent valuer, in accordance with Lands Department policy.
He said a number of residents from Minnie Water, Diggers Camp and Sandon River who had raised objections were expected to receive letters within the next few days detailing the results of the independent assessments.
While some residents are questioning how their land came to be so highly valued during a 12-month period where there was a downturn in the property market, Clarence Valley real estate agents have also been left scratching their heads.
Licensee of Elders' Yamba office, David Green, said the high valuations had put added pressure on a property market that was already in decline due to the new land tax.
He said the higher end of the real estate market had been particularly affected, offering an example of an Ocean Street property in Yamba.
A 2003 valuation pegged the land's value at $840,000 but last year it jumped to $1.4million.
When the land and the five-bedroom house that sat on it went to auction a fortnight ago, $1.3million was the best offer that could be raised.
Mr Green admitted the $19,000 land tax bill the new owners would have been expected to pay might have had some bearing on the auction's outcome.
IN The Daily Examiner on Thursday it was reported that the new mayor was entitled to a $76,000 package.
This was incorrect.
The mayor is entitled to a mayoral allowance of $26,045 and a councillor allowance of $12,925, making a total package of $38,970.
The mayoral vehicle is for business use only.
The Daily Examiner apologises for the error.