Landowners object to council charges

Bill and Yvonne Smith are in dispute with Snowy River Shire council over charges they are being forced to pay for a service they don’t receive. 

They are being billed the “waste availability charge” on all four lots of the 940 acre property they own on the Myalla Road. 

However, all lots are vacant rural land except one, on which their home is situated. 

The waste availability charge was introduced by the Snowy River Shire Council in 2012 and is levied on all rateable assessments within Snowy River Shire. 

Funds generated through this charge are used to offset management costs and education initiatives for council’s waste services, operation of the Berridale Transfer Station, recycling drop off points at Jindabyne and Adaminaby landfills, public place recycling and waste, illegal dumping and community events for all of council’s waste services.

Mr and Mrs Smith initially paid council $101 for one block of land the house is on, refusing to pay for the others and asked Snowy River Shire Council to remove the charges on the three vacant parcels of rural land. 

They say it is unfair and not equitable to pay the charge as that land has no dwelling and does not generate waste. 

In a letter to council they wrote: “We have not paid the waste management availability on lands that have no dwelling and do not generate any waste.

“Some small amount of household waste is taken to Cooma Landfill where we pay. 

“This Cooma facility has to be used against an 84 kilometres return trip to Berridale. Minimum cost $60 plus time.” 

The charge is levied under section 501 of the Local Government Act which states that council can impose an annual charge for waste management services other than domestic waste management services. It also states that the annual charge may be levied on each parcel of rateable land for which the service is provided. 

Mr and Mrs Smith believe it is unreasonable to be charged for a service that is not given.

Snowy River Shire Council has considered the request to remove the fee but decided the charges will remain on all rateables properties and overdue amounts would be pursued according to councils debt recovery policy. 

Mr Smith, who is 74, said he was left with no option but to pay the charges. 

“I can’t afford to take the risk. I will have to pay for it,” he said. 

“If we were in the Cooma Shire we would not have to pay the charge on the vacant lots.”

Given the Smith’s property is just five kilometres from Cooma, they welcomed moves by a group of Myalla Road residents to have shire boundaries adjusted which would mean they would become part of the Cooma-Monaro Shire Council. 

One of the Smith’s perimeter fence lines is only 700 metres from the Cooma-Monaro Shire Council boundary. 

They say they would much better off if they were part of the Cooma-Monaro Council. 

“We would love to be in the Cooma-Monaro shire, it makes sense,” Mrs Smith, 71-years said. 

“We would welcome the change of boundaries.”

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