Council chasing $5.3m in unpaid rates
THE South Burnett Regional Council is waiting on about $5.3million in unpaid rates.
This is about 10% of its total rates revenue.
In a bid to reduce the amount of revenue trapped in arrears, the council will contract a private debt collection agency.
Residents who fall behind on their rates payments will be contacted by Recoveries and Reconstruction Australia.
A total of 1810 property owners are behind on payments.
About 930 residents with a combined debt of $1.75million have arranged a payment plan with the council.
There are 715 residents with a combined debt of $3.05million who haven't made a payment plan.
At the extreme end of the books, there are 24 property owners facing a possible forced auction of their homes if they don't clear or make plans to clear their debt by November.
Ros Heit holds the council finance portfolio and she encouraged residents who had trouble paying the bill to contact the council to work out a payment plan.
"The majority of people do pay rates on time or make payment arrangements to pay,” Cr Heit said.
"The principal idea of the debt recovery processes will be to facilitate the establishment of payment arrangements to assist ratepayers to manage debt.”
Mayor Keith Campbell said any outstanding money at this level put all sorts of pressure on the council's budget.
"There is a cost impost in having that level of rates outstanding,” Cr Campbell said.
"Rate arrears in the order of 10% is well in excess of most other councils within the state.”
Cr Campbell said the council should aim to halve this amount over the coming budgets, bringing it to about 5%.
The state average is about 3%.
The next round of rate bills is due to be mailed on August 22 and, if paid before September 26, homeowners will gain a 10% discount.