Ratepayers pay up overdue amounts
IT might have been a scare tactic, but a threat to seize property in lieu of overdue rates has worked a treat for Rockhampton Regional Council.
Arrears have almost halved since June – down from $10.3 million to a shade under $6 million at the end of August.
Mayor Brad Carter said while there was still room for improvement, talk of selling land to recover money owed had made a difference.
There had been a surge of payments by landowners worried at the prospect of having their properties confiscated.
In percentage terms, the level of arrears has dropped from a high of 8.36% in June to 4.49% but the council's financial officers have warned that there could be a rise again.
“A combination of vigour and diligence by our financial management team and impending risk of losing properties has brought about a considerable improvement in arrears,” Cr Carter said.
Councillors this week ordered a report on whether to establish an independent advisory board to help people who fell into financial difficulty.
The mayor says he believes the council would benefit from advisory bodies offering independent advice to councillors.
“I am very keen to establish advisory boards to assist councillors, and that could include a group to provide assistance to ratepayers who are finding it hard to cope,” he said.
The authority is also at pains to point out that it is not responsible for land valuations, which are carried out by the State Government.
Cr Brett Svendsen said he was shocked to discover that the majority of businesses chose not to contest their valuations, even though they could save a lot of money by lodging an appeal.
“It's quite an easy process and it's well worth spending some time to do it. My advice is don't just accept the valuation that is handed down.”
The mayor said he understood community anger at the latest round of valuations, particularly of business premises.
“There are some real anomalies out there and a lot of angry people.”