Beach box owners dodge fee rise


BEACH box owners have persuaded Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors against a steep increase in their annual licence fees, but the future remains cloudy over other regulations, including restricting ownership to peninsula property owners. Pictures: Keith Platt

THE owners of beach boxes on Crown land managed by Mornington Peninsula Shire have succeeded in preventing their annual licence fees being increased to $1200.

The shire has agreed to charge $990, with a further discount to $700 if the beach box is less than five square metres.

In a submission to the council Mornington Peninsula Beach Box Association vice-president Mark A Davis said the proposed $1200 licence fee plus other shire-based fees meant that “in most cases” beach boxes were “higher than those applied to a resident’s residential property”.

He said providing a weekly waste service to beach boxes contradicted the licence requirements which banned the storing of waste.

Mr Davis also called for a review of the CIV rate which was applied equally to residential properties and beach boxes which he said received “little or no service” from the shire.

In arguing for licence fees to be based on value, Mr Davis said beach boxes at Rosebud “could be valued at less than $100,000” which was likely to be much less than that of one at a Portsea.

However, council is yet to decide on more far reaching changes to its beach box policy which could ultimately lead to a ban on their ownership by non-peninsula property owners (“‘Locals only’ rule for beach boxes” The News 1/6/20).

Cr Antonella Celi said her motion for council not to proceed with its 2020/21 draft budget plan to increase beach box licence fees was being made as a result of the submission from Mr Davis.

Council officers said shire’s estimated income would drop by $121,800 if Mr Davis’s suggestion was adopted.

In a comment attached to Cr Celi’s notice of motion at the 23 June online council meeting, the officers said that “from a good governance perspective it is preferred practice to consider or conduct budget matters … when the budget is presented for adoption rather than via notices of motion”.

After the meeting Cr David criticised the cut in beach box fees, saying it had halved the amount of money available to spend on “community submissions”, many of which “would involve jobs for our community”.

He told The News that the decision to drop beach box licence fees would lessen opportunities for much needed job-related community projects during the pandemic emergency.

The decision to effectively “give away $195,000” to a non-productive lobby group did not take the crisis situation into consideration “especially its effect on those that cannot afford the luxury of a beach box”.

Cr Gill said one councillor had already suggested  another community project as worthy of being financed by the shire “but, in reality, we’ve already spent that money on a luxury item for a small group”.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 30 June 2020


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