SA Liberals win government and say yes to SA Retirement Villages Association demand for inquiry into water rates

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The new wave on consumer advocacy: Prior to last weekend’s election, the SA Retirement Villages Residents Association (SARVRA) secured a promise that Steven Marshall’s new Government would establish a Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate the impact of changes to valuation policies by the Valuer-General that may lead to increases of up to 700% in SA Water fees.

According to SARVRA, the Valuer-General launched separate assessments for retirement village units to replace the single assessments generally given to multiple occupancy sites such as shopping centres and blocks of flats.

At a 26-unit Adelaide village, this resulted in residents’ total bill increasing from $2,123 to $16,516 – a jump of 680%.

This was on top of 8,500 separate assessments already issued to retirement village units built since the early 2000s which have provided “windfall revenue gains to SA Water through the introduction of individual water meter supply and sewer charges,” SARVRA says.

SARVRA president Bob Ainsworth said village residents were not after favourable treatment – they just wanted to be assessed in the same way as other multiple occupancy complexes, where occupiers do not own the property but have security of tenure with a licence to occupy or lease.

Another sign that residents’ associations have real power – and are flexing it.