ROBBED: Michael Herdman, looking at his rates notice with his daughters Chelsi and Adara, feels Mayor Brad Carter is robbing the poor and giving to the rich.
ROBBED: Michael Herdman, looking at his rates notice with his daughters Chelsi and Adara, feels Mayor Brad Carter is robbing the poor and giving to the rich. Allan Reinikka

Rates 'look after the rich'

ANGRY ratepayer Michael Herdman yesterday labelled Mayor Brad Carter the “Sheriff of Rockingham”.

He claims the recent rates notices are an example of stealing from the poor and giving to the rich – just like a Robin Hood in reverse.

Mr Herdman lashed out yesterday after receiving his rates notice with a 24.9% increase in six months.

The rise for some residents is due to the equalising of all rates across the four local government areas – leaving some with a huge increase and others with cheaper bills.

It’s a new system that  Cr Carter stood by yesterday, stating that Rockhampton region’s rates were still cheaper than Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and Bundaberg.

But Cr Tony Williams disagreed with the new  system and  voted against its introduction from the outset.

Mr Herdman is just one of many residents in Cr Williams’s division to complain to him about expensive rates in the past two days.

Cr Williams said 2065 residents would feel a steep rates rise.

Mr Herdman, who lives in a lower-rated area, feels he shouldn’t have to pay the same bill as people living on the coast.

He said his $170 increase could be spent on more important things like his two daughters Chelsi and Adara.

“No one needs a rates increase. I believe lower-priced land should pay less. Why discriminate against us? The Mayor is looking after the richer suburbs.”

The new rating system saw an introduction of an equal minimum general rate of $600.

In previous years a Rockhampton ratepayer was charged about $400 and a Capricorn Coast equivalent about $1100.

Cr Williams said the increase was just another blow for people in low-rated areas, which were generally the homes subject to flooding.

He said he knew a backlash would happen.

“At the end of the day the amount of money (council receives) hasn’t changed, it’s just balanced out, and the poorer end of the community had to suffer,” he said.

“High-value properties saw a reduction. It’s like a Robin Hood in reverse.”

Cr Williams said he had wanted to see the increase rolled out over a few years rather than a big hit.

Cr Carter said the real issue had arisen from a very disparate rating system originally in place across the four local government areas. Some people also formed the view it would only be a 7.6% increase – despite council never speculating that.

Cr Carter said some bills could have gone up by $300, but if that was looked at over a per-week basis it wasn’t a lot.

An example of current rates prices for a $50,000 cattle property would be $2038 annually for Rockhampton, $2165 for the Capricorn Coast, $2428 for Gracemere and $2262 for Mount Morgan.

“In my view we’re not losing out and this example of adjustment in the first year is because of setting a minimum general rate,” he said.


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