Gympie’s unpaid rates bills hit a staggering high
THE spectre of high rates in the Gympie region is not going to be shaken any time soon with the staggering revelation almost one in five of the region’s ratepayersare overdue on their payment.
Gympie Regional Council acting chief financial officer David Lewis revealed this week more than 3800 ratepayers had failed to meet the September 24 cut-off for paying their bills.
This meant that as of the end of last month, 17.89 per cent of the region’s ratepayers had not paid.
The Queensland average for councils is 2-3 per cent.
Mr Lewis said the problem ran much deeper than simply being part of the COVID-19 fallout.
One area of “major concern”, Mr Lewis said, was among ratepayers “where we’ve had no contact and (their bills) have been outstanding for a number of years”.
Ongoing non-payments would force the council to begin the process of recovering costs by selling the ratepayer’s land, Mr Lewis said.
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It was not the popular choice, though.
“The last thing we want to be doing is having sale of land issues,” he said.
“We really want to work with the community to resolve the issues.”
Mr Lewis said the council’s next step was to contact those people with outstanding bills.
The council would also be investigating what pain points were behind the high level on overdue bills.
More than 1900 of the ratepayers who are late on their rates have no payment plan in place, and 660 do.
Gympie’s high rates have been a sore spot in the community for many years.
Property owners have argued they are too high, and defences have included that large tracts of the region are unable to be “rated” but still require council services such as road maintenance, and the fact that rates bills in this region include water and sewerage - these are billed separately by many other Queensland councils.