Revolt brews over rates

FEELINGS were running high as Agnes Water/Seventeen Seventy ratepayers vented their frustrations with the Gladstone Regional Council at a public meeting on Thursday night.

The room at the new Agnes Water Surf Club was packed, as Member for Burnett Rob Messenger chaired a public rally called by ratepayers angered by the latest rate rises.

“Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy ratepayers have some of the highest charges for rates – services and water – in Australia,” Mr Messenger said.

“We intend to put together a letter, collate the minutes from the meeting and send it to (acting mayor) Gail Sellers and the council.

“Then depending on the response, invite them to another community meeting and hopefully get them to listen – and to act.”

Many ratepayers at the meeting expressed their dismay at having the highest rates in the region – in many instances higher than some of Australia's exclusive city and coastal suburbs – and for what they said was little in the way of services.

“Democracy has failed us since amalgamation,” one Agnes Water ratepayer said.

“Beachside places such as Bargara (Bundaberg region) and Yeppoon (Rockhampton) pay around $3000 and I pay $5000 in Seventeen Seventy and some pay $6000 and it keeps going up – next year it will be more than $7000,” another said.

“To establish a B&B (bed and breakfast business) in Gladstone or Calliope it costs around $5000 yet it is $60,000 in Seventeen Seventy,” one man said.

“Because development applications are so expensive no-one wants to come here.”

Acting Mayor Gail Sellers said she was disappointed ratepayers had not contacted the council directly and would be happy to meet a delegation to try and sort out some of the issues.

“I don't think much would be achieved with another public meeting, but I would be happy to bring our rating people down and meet with community representatives,” Cr Sellers said.



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