Council fire sale to recoup unpaid rates
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