Rates discount to remain
HARVEY Shire Council’s rates discount for early payment will continue after Cr Bill Adams’ motion to phase the incentive out was lost three votes to nine at last Tuesday’s meeting.
Cr Adams said his idea was to make the system more equal and he was convinced the number of people unable to pay upfront would rise due to the economic downturn. “The discount is a kick in the gut for one third of our ratepayers less affluent,” he said.
“A bonus system which hands out to the affluent is inappropriate in a time of unemployment and debts and we need to spread the burden.
“When the rates discount was introduced, the situation was different and if we can do away with the discount, we can reduce the rates hike.”
Neither Waroona and Dardanup councils nor the City of Bunbury have a rates discount in place although some local governments offer the incentive of going into a draw for a prize.
Council chief executive officer Michael Parker said the incentive to encourage early rates payment had been in place since 1988 result- ing in 68 to 70 per cent of rates paid in full within the 35-day discount period.
“Receiving the majority of rates upfront has a significant and positive impact on the shire’s cash flows and enables us to commence major projects earlier,” Mr Parker said.
“However, council is mindful of the difficulties some people have in paying rates and has tried to keep instalment fees to a minimum of $15 compared to a South West average of $28.
“We are currently not charging interest on the instalment options, only on overdue rates, while the average interest charged on instalments in the South West is 5.2 per cent.
“The shire also offers tailored payment plans for people struggling with the payment of rates.”