Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett at the 2019-20 budget meeting.
Gladstone Mayor Matt Burnett at the 2019-20 budget meeting. Matt Taylor GLA170719BUDGET

Council considers changes as thousands sign rates petition

RESIDENTS could have more time to pay their rates and receive a discount, after thousands of people signed a petition dubbing this year's rates rise a "disgrace".

Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett will put forward a motion at council's general meeting next Tuesday to extend the 10 and 5 per cent discount periods by 30 days to pay for the 2019-20 rates notices.

The announcement comes as a petition about the council "slugging" ratepayers with another rates rise has gained almost 4000 signatures.

The petition criticised the rate rise this year and said "rates in Brisbane are a quarter of what we are paying, things need to change".

"(The) council have the hide to threaten to sell your home out from under you when you can't afford it and their repayment plans are crippling to families which leaves them with no chance to get ahead," it said.

In a petition update on Sunday it was suggested the community should go to the next general council meeting and "really let it hit home how they (the council) have completely ignored the community".

The 2019/20 rates increased by an average of 2.39 per cent.

This year's rates notices also included annual charges for water and sewerage, instead of splitting these charges into two separate bills which the council had done in previous years.

Cr Burnett said the council was aware of community feedback relating to late rates notices and the change to annual water and sewerage bills.

"Despite (the) council communicating its intention to revert to a combined rates notice this year, (the) council was aware of community feedback relating to rates and the timeframes to pay," he said.

"This, together with a printing and distribution delay of rates notices, means many ratepayers have not had adequate time to take advantage of the discount periods."

He said ratepayers could also design payment plans, which includes options to pay weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly or half-yearly.

"I appreciate the change to the rating methodology has had an impact on many household budgets and, in order to support local families and small business I believe an extension of the discount period is fair and reasonable," he said.

If the 30-day extension is adopted, ratepayers would have until October 18 to pay in full and receive a 10 per cent discount or November 17 to receive a 5 per cent discount.

Cr Burnett said to determine the rates bill each year, the council has to determine how much rates revenue needs to be generated.

He said this cost is spread across the community according to the distribution of properties' values.

"Despite popular belief, local government rates are not determined by a simple 'my property value' x 'general rate' = 'my bill' equation," Cr Burnett said. "This distribution of property values across a community typically fluctuates from year to year.

"Some years a drop or rise in value can be evenly spread across all properties; other years a pocket of properties will experience a dip or rise in value that is steeper than others.

"The relatively fixed cost of providing adequate services, combined with uneven levels of property value changes, explains why a drop or rise in a property's value doesn't necessarily result in an associated drop or rise in its rates.

"Therefore, an individual property's rates bill is governed by its value compared to other properties in the region and the fixed costs of its council."

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