Couple to leave Port Augusta after rates rise

RATES: The increase in rates in Port Augusta is forcing a retired couple to reluctantly look into leaving the city for good.
RATES: The increase in rates in Port Augusta is forcing a retired couple to reluctantly look into leaving the city for good.

PORT Augusta residents have been left outraged by the increase in rates, with particular cases exceeding the average 3 per cent rise in rate revenue highlighted in the 2017-18 Budget.

A retired couple living in an acre and a quarter block in Stirling North have been hit with Total Annual Rates and Charges of $3026.30 in 2017, equalling a rise of over five per cent since last year.

Their rates have increased a total of $151.38, but have not exceeded the maximum rate rise of $3.88 a week that was outlined by Port Augusta City Council CEO John Banks during the budget planning process.

The husband said they have been seeing a real estate agent, with plans to reluctantly leave Port Augusta due to the increased cost of living.

“It just keeps going higher and higher and higher, so now if one of us dies tomorrow, the other one has got to get out of the house because there’s no way on one single pension you can afford to keep paying all these rates,” he said.

“We'll have to move. I didn’t want to ... we’ve been living here for nearly 20 years and I love the place.”

With the pair now looking to move interstate to live with their daughter, the 81-year-old man said he felt like they were being forced out of Port Augusta.

“With water bills and electricity rates going up, by the time you work it all out there is about $150 that comes out of one single pension a week,” he said.

“We're dead set lucky because we own everything, but even though we own everything, it’s just not feasible.”

A woman who owns a property in Port Augusta West saw her rates increase by $136, despite a decrease in her property value.

Council’s Director of Community Services Anne O’Reilly said the increase was an average of three per cent, with some ratepayers paying above and others paying below the average rates.

“Generally speaking, if the percentage increase was higher than three per cent, it may have been because the land value changed at a different level than the average movement in value,” she said.

“Council has acknowledged the difficulties that the community faces due to the Council undertaking a larger number of services and programs than other Local Government counterparts. 

“Council is committed to a service level and range review.”

Mrs O’Reilly said the sale of aged care facilities Nerrilda Nursing Home and AM Ramsay Village will not have an impact on rates payable during 2017-18, but will reduce Council’s deficit in future years.

The two aged care facilities were sold by the Council to Edenfield Family Care on Thursday, July 27.