As growth continues, property rates must go down, Murray Bridge councillor says

With property values rising and the local population growing, Airlie Keen wants ratepayers' bills to fall in 2022.

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Murray Bridge’s councillors pass their 2021-22 budget on Tuesday night, but decide any rate decrease can wait until 2022-23. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Property rates in Murray Bridge should go down next year, a local councillor says.

With the city’s population growing and property values rising, the Murray Bridge council has been able to spend more money on projects without increasing property rates in two of the past three years.

However, ratepayers’ bills have still gone up with the value of their homes and businesses.

Airlie Keen is one councillor who thinks it is almost time for that trend to reverse.

“We must consider the impost on ratepayers from the increasing property values,” she argued at a council meeting on Tuesday night.

“Our rate in the dollar still is very high, compared to other neighbouring councils, and as valuations increase that rate burden increases.

“We have got to have a really close look in the next budget at putting some downward pressure on that rate in the dollar.”

Cr Wayne Thorley agreed.

But he suggested the council had been responsible with its money.

“We have expectations to carry out works in the community and works cost money,” he said.

“Either we pay or we don’t get the works.

“This (2021-22 budget) is a fair compromise.”

Councillors passed that 2021-22 budget without any big changes on Tuesday night.

The rate in the dollar charged against property owners will stay the same this year, just like in 2018 and 2019, and will not go down just yet.

Council revenue is projected to increase by three per cent in 2021-22: 1.2% due to rising property values and 1.8% due to the growing number of houses and other properties in the district.

Population growth will keep going, Plan SA says

How many new houses will be built in Murray Bridge in the near future, anyway?

State authority Plan SA published some new projections only a couple of weeks ago.

Under a medium growth scenario, 2300 more people are likely to move to the Murray Bridge district by 2030.

In a high growth scenario, the figure could be as high as 3600 people.

For reference, the district’s current population is about 22,000, so we’d be looking at population growth of about 10 per cent, or about the same rate as Adelaide.

Every new family which moves into the district will need somewhere to live, and the owner of every new home will need to pay council rates – hence the council’s relaxed attitude to rate increases lately.

Council will review 2015 housing growth plan

Where will all those new houses go, anyway?

Back in 2014, the council scoped out all the possible growth areas around Murray Bridge, and decided areas to the south and west would be best for to new housing.

That growth plan will now be reviewed in light of South Australia’s new planning system.

If necessary, the council may pursue zoning changes that would allow those areas – currently zoned rural living or country living – to be subdivided into smaller residential blocks.

The council’s strategic development and policy committee voted last month to hire a consultant to review the 2014 residential growth plan.