Coun­cil fire sale to re­coup un­paid rates

Townsville Bulletin - - News - by Natalie Wynne natalie. wynne@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

TOWNSVILLE City Coun­cil plans to sell 47 prop­er­ties to re­cover al­most $ 1 mil­lion in out­stand­ing rates in a sign rate pay­ers are do­ing it tough.

The coun­cil’s Cor­po­rate Gov­er­nance Com­mit­tee yes­ter­day moved to start sale pro­ceed­ings on the 47 prop­er­ties to re­cover $ 897,273 in un­paid rates and charges.

Op­po­si­tion La­bor coun­cil­lor Jenny Hill said ratepay­ers were strug­gling af­ter rates had al­most dou­bled in the past three years.

The 47 prop­er­ties to be sold in­clude 31 in­vest­ment or com­mer­cial prop­er­ties as well as seven car­ried over from the pre­vi­ous year for un­paid rates and charges.

Most own­ers, how­ever, pay their bills be­fore the houses hit the mar­ket.

Cor­po­rate Gov­er­nance Com­mit­tee chair­woman Cr Natalie Marr said the un­paid rates were mainly from in­vestors and busi­nesses.

‘‘ These prop­er­ties that are out­stand­ing have un­paid rates and charges over three years and more and with those prop­er­ties, we work with them con­tin­u­ally,’’ she said.

‘‘ There’s just over $ 897,000 worth of rates to be paid on these prop­er­ties and we need to re­cover those costs.’’

Cr Marr de­nied the coun­cil was be­ing heavy handed.

‘‘ We’ve worked with these prop­erty own­ers for three years and we have taken ac­tion to­day to back the plan to re­cover those costs.

‘‘ We cov­ered ev­ery op­por­tu­nity we could to get them into pay­ment plans so we’re at the stage now where we need to take ac­tion.

‘‘ We have staff in this area all the time to try and help peo­ple pay their rates.’’

The coun­cil be­gan pro­ceed­ings to sell 17 prop­er­ties last year but 10 paid their out­stand­ing debts be­fore the sale leav­ing only seven to go to mar­ket.

Coun­cil has the power un­der the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act to sell prop­er­ties to re­coup out­stand­ing rates if they were in ar­rears for three years for res­i­den­tial and 12 months for com­mer­cial.

Cr Hill said ratepay­ers were do­ing it tough and that coun­cil should do more to help bat­tlers.

‘‘ It’s an in­di­ca­tion peo­ple in the com­mu­nity, es­pe­cially busi­nesses, have been find­ing it dif­fi­cult to make ends meet for quite a long time,’’ she said.

‘‘ Just be­cause we have the power to sell doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean we have to.

‘‘ You have to ask your­self what’s gone wrong if they can’t af­ford to pay their rates.’’

Cr Marr said not acting on over­due rates was un­fair on those who paid on time.

‘‘ We have ratepay­ers who scrimp and save ev­ery­day to pay on time and I don’t think it’s fair that they should carry the bur­den of those who haven’t paid,’’ she said.

The own­ers have been con­tacted where pos­si­ble and ad­vised of the coun­cil’s in­ten­tion to sell.

Cr Natalie Marr

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