Rates split could ease burden

Mayoral candidate Gina Doulis
Mayoral candidate Gina Doulis

WHISPER the word "rates" in a crowd of Southern Downs homeowners and you are likely to witness a collective cringe.

For years, local ratepayers have battled with the annual lump sum payment and many have fought to have it cut into half-yearly or quarterly notices - a system successfully implemented in other regions.

However, it appears this seemingly simple solution is actually not so simple.

Council estimates having rate bills sent out four times a year would result in an $883,119 blow to the budget - in terms of printing, postage, loss of interest and staffing costs.

Warwick resident and former mayoral candidate Gina Doulis said it was preposterous to keep rates as they were and the Southern Downs Regional Council needed to consider the economic position of the community.

"Everyone is doing it tough and there is no reason they can't do it quarterly," Ms Doulis said.

She said most residents would be happy to receive their statements electronically to cut printing and postage costs.

"Then those who can't could pay a $5 fee to have an invoice posted out to them," she said.

Ms Doulis said she was disappointed about the lack of services in the town and said it wasn't fair to have to pay it all up front.

"I live 19km out of town and I have no town water and no sewerage," she said.

"Why should I have to pay all my rates up front when I don't even get (the benefits of services)?

"I hope council does something positive about this."

Mayor Peter Blundell said discussions about rates were under way.

"We have had a meeting with the rates advisory group and we have started our preliminary budget discussions and we're looking at what our finances look like," Cr Blundell said.

He wouldn't say whether the change was likely, but said discussing it was on the agenda.

"Some review is happening now (about cutting rates into half-yearly or quarterly notices)."

Rates will be discussed in tomorrow's council meeting.

Topics:  gina doulis, mayor peter blundell, rates, southern downs regional council



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