Rates arrears a shock

PAUL and Mandy Neubecker are already operating at a loss, but an extra $13,000 in rates is sending them further into the red.

The Emu Park couple, who own Emus Beach Resort and Backpackers, said yesterday they were hit with an unexpected, amended rates bill and have to pay two years of arrears because Rockhampton Regional Council took three years to process a plumbing inspection.

The charge more than doubles their normal rates bill after “the hardest period of tourism ever” in which they had no customers for weeks due to air and road closures through the flooding in Central Queensland.

The notice has come too late for the couple, as they cannot raise the price of their rooms until mid 2013, due to contracts already agreed to with travel and bus companies for next year's bookings.

“We are already operating at a loss because of the weather, the global financial crisis and the high Australian dollar.

“The dollar alone has had a huge effect on the international tourism market,” she said.

“We have to give out our accommodation rates a year in advance. I can't go back and say, ‘I need more money'.”

The couple want some leniency from council and are scratching their heads in thinking of ways to come up with the money.

They wondered if other new developments were in the same situation.

“We are crying out for tourism to help small operators but council is hurting us even more,” she said.

Paul and Mandy Neubecker's rates situation was discussed yesterday during a closed, full meeting of Rockhampton Regional Council.

The Morning Bulletin was not able to access the resolution, but a council spokeswoman is expected to provide a response for tomorrow's edition.

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