Finally, Cobraball rates relief clarity
COBRABALL bushfire victims finally have rates relief clarity, with several Livingstone councillors acknowledging the authority could have handled the situation better.
At Tuesday’s council meeting it was revealed the Queensland Government had not given Livingstone a yes or no answer to its request for the State to cover the cost of six months’ rates for the owners of 15 properties destroyed in last November’s disaster.
With the Palaszczuk Government offering a non-committal response, Livingstone this week decided it would provide the victims with a total of $24,761 rates relief, by tapping into a pool of already committed Federal Government bushfire recovery funding.
Mayor Andy Ireland paid special thanks to Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, who had given direction and support during the drawn-out process, which followed the NSW government providing rates relief for its bushfire victims.
Tuesday’s council meeting heard that 13 of the 15 owners of properties destroyed in the Cobraball bushfires had already paid their rates for the relevant period, January 1 to June 30.
Cr Nigel Hutton asked, since that was the case, had the Cobraball property owners ever been contacted by the council to inform them that if no other level of government would, Livingstone had made a decision to guarantee rates relief.
“Was there any correspondence from council informing them of the decision to remove the burden of rates from them, or did they solely read about it in The Morning Bulletin?”
A council officer responded by saying he was not aware of any effort being made to contact these people.
And that led Cr Ireland to say: “It’s an excellent point, Cr Hutton, and it’s something we take on board for the future.”
Cr Adam Belot added, that from a governance perspective, the council could learn from this matter and “aspire to do things better”.
Acting CEO Brett Bacon later confirmed at the meeting that the 13 owners who had paid their rates, had done so before council’s resolution in March to guarantee relief.
Mr Bacon said these ratepayers could either be offered a refund or given a credit.
Cr Ireland provided an insight into why the council (before his time) did not write to the State Government immediately, or shortly after, this course of action was decided in March.
“We’ve received a bit of flak from sectors of the community, as you’d be aware, in terms of the length of time it’s taken for this to be resolved,” Cr Ireland said.
“Part of that issue has been ... in the middle of all this was the election, so the matter was not addressed until the new council was sworn in, at which time I wrote to Minister (Stirling) Hinchliffe, putting council’s case and quoting the resolution from council (made before the election).”