Gormanston, Camping Ground concerns raised at Council meeting

18 May 2017

West Coast Councillors were faced with a series of questions from the public gallery at its monthly meeting on Tuesday night (16 May).

The larger than usual gallery asked a variety of questions, including how Council was going to rate properties operating as Airbnb accommodation, management of fire risk and dilapidated buildings in Gormanston and changes to operations at the Macquarie Heads Camping Ground.

“Council understands the concerns raised by operators regarding the recent changes to Airbnb regulations and we will investigate what we can do regarding appropriately rating such properties,” West Coast Mayor Phil Vickers said.

Mayor Vickers also made commitments for Council to work with the West Coast Weed Management Group and Tas Fire to assess and minimise weed growth throughout Gormanston, following concerns raised by residents regarding fire risk.

Council also advised the gallery that the old workshop in Gormanston, owned by Council, has been budgeted for demolition in 2017-2018.

“Council has also been communicating with the owner of another dilapidated building in Gormanston for some time now, and whilst we are aware of the condition of the building, we were not in the position to demolish as we would not be able to recoup the cost,” Mayor Vickers explained.  Should budget permit in 2017-2018, Council will reassess the need to demolish this building also.

Recent advice to licence holders at the Macquarie Heads Camping Ground saw several concerned site holders attend the Council meeting to clarify the changes, and the process to be undertaken.  Mayor Vickers committed to meeting with Council management to further refine the process, which will be communicated to site holders.

“Council fully understands that talk of changes to how things operate at Macquarie Heads has site holders concerned,” Mayor Vickers said. 

“However, Council has committed to ensuring an appropriate long-term plan for the area is developed and that sites are appropriate to the permitted use of the area.  It is important that everyone understands the Macquarie Heads Camping Ground is not, and has never been, a shack site.  It is a camp ground and unfortunately rumours have abounded which are causing some people unnecessary angst.”

Site holders with any concerns regarding potential changes are asked to contact Council directly with their queries.

The meeting also saw the 2017-2018 Rates Resolution and Fees and Charges passed unanimously, this will result in a one percent general rate rise for property owners.  Total rate revenue for the next financial year is estimated at $6,809,038 which amounts to 64% of Council’s total revenue.  Properties within the municipality will also be subject to Adjustment Factors, as determined by the Valuer General.

“It is important for West Coast ratepayers to understand that the Adjustment Factors are separate to Council rates and are not determined by Council,” Mayor Vickers said after the meeting.  “As the Valuer-General uses current property sales, rental data and other market evidence to determine the current levels, some property owners may see their Council rates decrease, increase or remain the same, depending on the adjustment factor for the property the Valuer-General provides to Council to base our rates on.”

General Manager Dirk Dowling will remain at Council after Councillors unanimously voted to reappoint Mr Dowling to the position when his current employment contract expires on 1 December 2017.  Details of the reappointment will be finalised and presented to Council for discussion in closed session at the June Council meeting.

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