Southern Downs mayor Peter Blundell ...
Southern Downs mayor Peter Blundell ... "perfect storm" Erin Smith

Council backs down after 'perfect storm' on rates

THE Southern Downs Regional Council has backed down and cancelled "double-dip" supplementary rates notices after an angry display of Warwick people power.

The council met today after more than 100 angry residents have voiced their objections in a fiery Wednesday night forum at the town hall.

Mayor Peter Blundell said the decision, made at a specially convened council meeting this afternoon, was a good outcome for the affected ratepayers who would suffer hardship as a result of the supplementary rates notices.

"Council has listened to the concerns of these ratepayers who have made contact with councillors and also attended a public meeting last night to protest the supplementary rates notices," he said.

"As outlined at the public meeting Council believed, under the Local Government Act, that it must gather the supplementary rates as directed by the Department of Natural Resources. However having gained further legal advice we are informed that we can provide concession to affected landowners.

"Council is concerned about the ambiguity in the Local Government Act in relation to changes in land valuations and all councillors are particularly troubled that there are long delays with land valuations.

"As part of our resolution today Council has decided to write to the Department of Natural Resources strongly voicing these concerns.

"We acknowledge that there are lessons to be learned from this and Council staff will prepare a policy that will outline a process to follow when issuing any future supplementary rates notices," he said.

Anyone with questions about supplementary rates notices can contact Council on 1300 MY SDRC (1300 697 372).

On Wednesday night, many ratepayers spoke of their lack of confidence in the council.

Cr Blundell called the issue a "perfect storm" and said the wording on the notices "leaves a lot to be desired".

"I accept responsibility for the fact our communication process could have been a lot better than it has," he told the public meeting.

Read the full story of the backdown and the success of people power in Friday's Daily News.



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