By ERWIN CHLANDA
The town council has refunded $6080 it had charged a developer for inspection of a project that did not require inspection, because it had already been checked – and charged for – as part of a strata titled complex (pictured).
Developer Joel Olzomer called it “speculative invoicing” and says he had to go to significant length to get his money back.
He also wondered if other developers had fallen victim to the same practice.
He told council CEO Rex Mooney in an email: “I again wish to express the displeasure of the property owners in regards to this unnecessarily drawn out process and that as the recipients of an invalid speculative invoice, our concern is only of its imminent correction not of your lengthy processes and wide ranging reviews and counsels.”
Mr Mooney would not say whether other refunds are going to be made. A council spokesperson said: “This is a matter between Council and Mr Olzomer and no comment will be made.”
Mr Olzomer said, in part, in an email on March 25 to Mr Mooney, Mayor Damien Ryan and Councillors Kylie Bonanni, Steve Brown and Eli Melky: “It is extremely disappointing that despite questioning the sense of the exorbitant invoices on two occasions that I have now only come to this position after spending considerable time investigating and challenging the invoice.
“Further still, this event is damaging to business confidence and displays a lack of transparency within the Alice Springs Town Council (ASTC) and the regulatory framework that developers and other groups who are trying to create economic growth in Alice Spring have to contend with.
“There is little logic in penalising someone who wants to go to the effort and expense of strata titling rather than actively encouraging them, as this will lead to significant long term increases in rates payable to ASTC rather than a short sighted view of charging unnecessary ‘fees’ that deliver no long term revenue or output of any material merit.
“As only one inspection has occurred to undertake the inspection of storm water and crossover, clearly the ASTC has only carried out works in relation to [one invoice] and assessed against the requirements of [the relevant development permit].”
Mr Olzomer said Crs Bonanni, Brown and Melky were “very responsive. I feel they represented me as a constituent”.
By ERWIN CHLANDA