Council wants a second bite of two years worth of rates
RESIDENTS in Rosenthal Heights have accused Southern Downs Regional Council of "strong-arm tactics" after receiving supplementary rates notices as high as $1000 this week.
As many as 200 property owners living on the western city limits received the notices in the mail early this week, demanding they back-pay two years worth of rates increases from a valuation of their properties in 2012.
Warner St resident Margaret Collins is furious at council demands that she pay an extra $1012 in rates for her 12.2 hectare property.
"It's Gestapo-like," she said.
"They're calling it arrears - it's just out of control."
The frustration is evident up and down Warner St, as residents grapple with the latest hit to their hip pockets.
Residents of 50 years Bob and Kate Keogh were shocked to find the supplementary notice in the mail on Tuesday.
"As far as I'm concerned it's a money grab from the council because they are broke," Mr Keogh said.
"We've paid our rates - why should we have to pay more?"
Mrs Keogh said by Tuesday afternoon the whole street was up in arms.
"It didn't take long for the news to spread," she said.
"The thing that annoys me is how much difference there is in the value of properties in this area."
The long-term resident said she believed the council had identified the area as future residential land.
"The more the rates go up, the more likely people will disband their blocks," she said.
"It's a way of pushing people out of their properties - taking away your whole lifestyle."
Residents have been given just three weeks to make the payments or they will be faced with an extra 11% compounded on top of their bill.
One Bracker Rd resident has accused the council of showing no consideration for residents by passing on the supplementary rates notice.
Brian Nothdurft has only lived at his Bracker Rd property for a year, yet has been ordered to pay $700 in rates dating back to July 2012.
"My biggest concern is the strong-arm tactics - you can't treat people like that," he said.
"My rates have increased 20 - 25 % on last year - who is to say they won't do the same with the water?"
While residents have raised their concerns with both the council and the Department of Natural Resources and Mines, which were responsible for the valuations, they were dissatisfied with the response.
"I could only see the receptionist at council," Mrs Collins said.
"I have spoken to (deputy mayor) Ross Bartley and he's supportive of us."
One resident was told by council the supplementary rates weren't their issue.
Anna Jackson said if the additional rates were added up, people would be shocked by the figure.
"We've battled with council over things such as bins in the past - they've been reasonable up until now," she said.
"With the additional rates it's $2000 worth of bills I wasn't expecting."
Warner St residents Raylene and Graham Swain, who have recently finished rebuilding their lives from a devastating house fire last year, are also among those hit with the supplementary rates notice based on the unimproved vale of their land.
"You can't go back to 2012," Mrs Swain said.
"They keep coming up with all these reasons - you can't just go back."
Mr Keogh has proposed affected residents band together and voice their anger.
"I'd suggest we all write a letter, sign it and send it to council and the minister," he said.
"I'd like to know if any other councils have done this - is this a once only?"
Any residents affected by the supplementary rates notices and interested in taking action, can call Mrs Keogh on 4661 2833.