Lockyer Valley rates war with businesses continues

ANGRY: Service station owner Vernie Ziebarth.
ANGRY: Service station owner Vernie Ziebarth. Derek Barry

THE war of words between Lockyer Valley Regional Council and local businesses shows no sign of letting up with MP Ian Rickuss dragged into the battle.

Last week, the council held closed sessions with many business owners who say their rates went up from between 150% to 600%.

Service station owner Vern Ziebarth said one councillor wasn't aware of the rate hike, while another hadn't seen the comparison with other nearby councils.

The comparison was tabled at a meeting of businesses last Friday week which showed annualised rates, as a percentage of unimproved capital value, has skyrocketed to 6% in Lockyer Valley, three times higher than neighbouring councils.

Local MP Ian Rickuss facilitated that meeting and LVRC voted to publicly release an email exchange with CEO Ian Flint, in which Mr Rickuss accused Mr Flint of "cowering in the corner".

The pair were arguing over whether council should be represented at the meeting.

Jim McDonald attended the meeting, but in a personal capacity, as a recent council decision permits only the mayor and the CEO to have meetings with Mr Rickuss.

Mr Rickuss said he sent his email around 7pm when his frustrations were starting to show.

"I don't want to do council business, but unfortunately this council is unable to deal with my constituents in a reasonable way," Mr Rickuss said.

The LJ Hooker agent for Plainland Caltex Mike Stewart also met Council in closed session last week after their rates were increased from $24,000 per year to $150,000 per year. 

Mr Stewart said Council admitted there was a mistake in their categorisation and they would be changing their rates.

"It's a shame some councillors didn't seem to know about these rate rises," Mr Stewart said.

"They have really shot themselves in the foot over this."

Another business owner Kev Toohill, who also saw Council in close session, said they were being charged as a packing shed which they have not done since the floods.

"They said if I didn't pay up, they threatened to charge me more by classing me in another category," Mr Toohill said.

Business rates Comparison

(Rates as a percentage of unimproved value)

  • Brisbane 0.89%
  • Gold Coast 1.25%
  • Ipswich 1.95%
  • Toowoomba 1.76%

Topics:  ian rickuss lockyer valley regional council

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