Rate changes

Ratepayers within the Alexandrina Council district now have the opportunity to have their say on the proposed changes to the region’s rating system.
The council wants to increase the charges paid by the owners of some vacant residential blocks in an attempt to stimulate growth within the towns.
The owners of undeveloped land valued below $65,000 will pay slightly less than the usual $650 minimum rate, while anything of higher value will pay more.
Due to the changes the council expects 60% of all property owners will have to pay an increase in rates while 40% will pay less. It is proposed to cap any vacant block increase at 50% of last year’s amount.
The significant change also includes a flat fee of $250 for all properties with the rate in the dollar based on the land’s valuation then added. The rate in the dollar for vacant blocks will be twice that of developed blocks.
The council says the changes are not a revenue grab and will not result in a greater take from residents.
Under the new system the owner of a house valued at $350,000 will pay just over $1300 in rates, an increase of about $20 or 1.3%. The owner of the house valued at $500,000 will pay about $80 less or about a 4.5% decrease.
There appears to be plenty of avenues by which ratepayers can have a say.
The response will be interesting.

Crush comes of age

By drawing 12,000 visitors to the region in one day this year, the Adelaide Hills Wine Region’s Crush festival has shown it has certainly come of age.
What began about nine years ago as a boutique festival celebrating the local wine industry’s annual harvest has had many incarnations.
The festival has shifted timeslots and changed formats and names several times over the years, steadily gaining momentum to become a major drawcard for the region.
Its evolution reflects the rapid changes in the wine industry in the Hills, which has gone from having few winery cellar doors to several dozen in just a few years.
It appears to be a well-run event, with organisers who respond to challenges by making changes to the festival’s operation.
A new theme each year prompts wineries to create new experiences, keeping the event fresh and exciting and ensuring there is always something to cater for different age groups and tastes.
In the past the Adelaide Hills has struggled to compete as a wine region against the likes of the Barossa and McLaren Vale.
But if Sunday’s record attendance is anything to go by, it appears that what was once the wallflower of the State’s wine districts is finally attracting the notice it deserves.