Mayor calling in almost $2million in unpaid rates
SOUTH Burnett Regional Council mayor Keith Campbell is asking property owners with unpaid rates to arrange a payment plan.
In November last year, the council contracted debt collection agency, Recoveries and Reconstruction, to recover $2.44 million in overdue rates.
At this month's council meeting, councillors were advised that to date, $467,000 from 155 properties in unpaid rates had been recovered, with 120 ratepayers having entered into payment arrangements.
There is still $1.982 million outstanding from 315 ratepayers who are yet to contact the council and work out a payment plan.
The next step for the council will be to instigate legal action to collect these outstanding amounts.
"This is not a pleasant process and one that myself and the councillors wished we didn't have to undertake. However, the financial cost to our community is such that we need to take action,” Cr Campbell said.
"Council understands and empathises with people struggling to make ends meet.
"However, the majority of our ratepayers do pay their rates on time or commit to payment arrangements throughout the year.”
About 10 per cent of the council rates remain unpaid.
This is well above the state average and Cr Campbell said this put significant pressure on the council's ability to mange its finances.
"The Council has some work to do to bring us inline with something comparable with the state average,” he said.
"The main issue is to encourage people who hare having some level of difficulty to contact the council office, speak to rates department, discuss their problems and set up a payment plan.
"It is far better for ratepayers to be proactive and do this rather than wait for a debt collector to come knocking.”