Short-stay accommodation providers in Tasmania's north-east are furious after they discovered their council waste charges have gone up by 235 per cent, despite no additional services being delivered.
Dorset Council sent out rate notices to owners in Derby, Branxholm and Winnaleah, showing their waste levies have gone up from $900 last year to $3,020 per dwelling.
Levies in Bridport, Scottsdale and Tomahawk have also gone up.
The whole way this has been done, and the way this hasn't been communicated, it's just wrong, Derby Digs owner Larry Cohen said.
He has two dwellings with a third under construction, leaving him with an eventual bill of more than $9,000 in waste levies.
"This is my life savings that you're sitting in," Cohen said.
It was not just a massive hike without notice, according to Cohen. He didn't get any additional services.
How can I charge a charge without services attached? He said something.
It's not really a waste levy. He said that the office still considered short-stay accommodation properties to be residential rather than commercial, meaning the council could not charge commercial rates.
It's appropriate that Airbnbs, which are commercial enterprises for all intents and purposes, should pay a fair share of the rates burden and we've done it via the waste management charge, he said.
He said it was not fair that short-stay accommodation providers were required to pay less in rates than hotels, motels and registered bed and breakfasts, so the council wanted to level the playing field. The Local Government Act is very restrictive as councils can make charges and the waste levy is one of those, so we used that mechanism, he said.
He said any community consultation was unlikely to have made a difference as no-one was going to be in favour of it Minister for Local Government Nic Street said he was aware of the community concern and had requested the Office of Local Government to look into the move and report back.
The move came about when the council tried to fill a budget black hole at the end of the last financial year, which was blamed for rising inflation.
Howard acknowledged that the levy hike was brought in partially to fill that hole, but said it needed to happen regardless of balance sheet.
He said the council had sought legal advice before proceeding.
Cohen is considering his legal options after his lawyer thought the charge could be unlawful.
This was due to the amount it was increasing, the fact that it was charged per dwelling instead of per title, and the fact that no additional waste services were provided.
My legal advice is to get the Supreme Court to challenge this fake charge, but I'm considering whether or not I have the appetite to do it, Mr Cohen said.
A spokesman for NRE Tasmania, which falls under the Office of the Valuer-General, said the Valuer-General is responsible for all statutory valuations, which are then used by councils as the basis to calculate rates.
The fact that rating authorities use statutory valuations in their rating resolutions is entirely up to them under the provisions of the Local Government Act, they said.
The decision to increase these charges is a matter for the council.