Rates hike shocks duo

DESPITE the warnings of a rate rise, Barbara and Martin Gill were shocked to find a $300 increase when they opened their latest general rates notice.

The rise was a result of the new categories which were adopted for the latest budget and saw the couple’s property move from a rural residential to a residential two class.

The criterion for a residential two category was a property where the dominant use was residential, it was connected to the town water supply and the property was larger than 4047 square metres.

Mr and Mrs Gill said they were shocked to see the change in category because although they were connected to the town water supply, it was a restricted flow.

“Its only comes out at 9L per minute so we have to have a tank and pumps to use it,” Mrs Gill said.

“We don’t get anything for our general rate, we don’t have street lights, garbage, sewerage or any other services – but we don’t mind about that, we just don’t understand why we have to pay so much more just to get a restricted water flow.

“So what are we getting for the extra money, a restricted water flow and we pay for our water separately already?”

A spokeswoman for the Southern Downs Regional Council said the type of flow was inconsequential.

“If they are recipients of a restricted flow, they pay less for their water access charges than other users on a normal flow – so this is catered for in the way water access charges are formed and has nothing to do with rates,” she said.

The couple said their neighbour, who wasn’t on the town water supply was in a lower category and was paying less rates and they didn’t think it was fair to have to pay the general higher rate when they received almost identical levels of service.

But the council spokeswoman said it had nothing to with the other services because being connected to the town water supply and the size of the land were the deciding factors.

“They are benefiting from use of town water which their neighbour is not and are hence in a different category,” she said.

The spokeswoman wasn’t sure if there were other blocks of similar sizes on the town water supply with a normal flow but said it wouldn’t matter because the categories were set out to a specific criteria.

“It is fair to include anyone in this rating category who is connected to town water and has a block larger than 4047 square metres” she said.

“Their water access charges, charged separately to rates, are lower to reflect the difference in flow.”



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