Council targets eyesores

OWNERS of derelict Launceston properties will be forced to clean up their mess this year when the Launceston City Council uses new legislative powers granted to it to eliminate eyesores from streetscapes.

State Parliament late last year passed Local Government Act amendments that gave councils more power to rectify issues with dilapidated buildings.

This came five years after the Local Government Association of Tasmania resolved at its 2007 annual general meeting to lobby the government for the power to enforce works on derelict buildings.

Council general manager Robert Dobrzynski said there were a small minority of cases in Launceston where a property had fallen into disrepair.

"There are only several properties around the Launceston municipality the council believes could fall within the scope of this legislation," he said.

"Dilapidated properties financially disadvantage neighbouring property owners through lowered valuations and rental yields, and impact negatively on neighbourhood amenity and safety."

Mr Dobrzynski said the council would soon develop an internal policy to outline how it would use the legislation.

The council has issued 137 fire hazard abatement notices so far on Launceston properties this financial year, compared with 146 notices in 2012-13.

The owner of 10 Ormley Street, Kings Meadows, has until tomorrow to comply with their notice.

Mr Dobrzynski said if the hazard was not cleared, the council would arrange a clean-up and charge the owner.

"A charge under these provisions is a charge on the land and is recoverable in the same manner as rates and other charges," he said.

Unpaid council rates bill up by 24 per cent

TASMANIA’S unpaid council rates bill rose by 24 per cent last financial year, compared with the year before.

Ratepayers owed the councils $15.2 million in unpaid rates for 2012-13, which was $3.7 million up

from the $11.5 million owed in 2011-12.

Legally, councils can put a property on the market if its owner has failed to pay their rates for three

years.

Launceston City Council general manager Robert Dobrzynski said his council tended to opt for

payment plans before that stage.

‘‘The Launceston City Council has actively encouraged the use of payment plans for anyone having

difficulty paying their rates,’’ he said.

‘‘Giving people that bit of extra flexibility means paying their rates is less of a headache.

‘‘There are, at times, a small minority who don’t pay their rates and refuse to enter into a payment plan or to even discuss the matter.’’

The Launceston City Council has $1.28 million in rates outstanding, which represents just 2.8 per cent of its total revenue.

There are 37 properties in the municipality with outstanding rates payments over three years, and the biggest individual outstanding rates debt is $48,900.

As for other Northern councils, Break O’Day has $594,000 in total owed in outstanding rates (8.6 per cent), Dorset $519,000 (8.6 per cent), George Town $330,000 (4.9 per cent), Northern Midlands $357,000 (4.3 per cent), Meander Valley $637,000 (6.7 per cent), and West Tamar $798,000 (5.6 per cent).

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