Rates equality concerns

Imbil resident Janine Wilson said she shouldn’t have to pay as much in rates as someone living in Gympie or Nambour as there were less facilities in town.
Imbil resident Janine Wilson said she shouldn’t have to pay as much in rates as someone living in Gympie or Nambour as there were less facilities in town. Renee Pilcher

IMBIL resident Janine Wilson wants to know why someone at Imbil has to pay rates on par with someone living at Gympie and even Nambour.

Ms Wilson moved to her Imbil home about 18 months ago from Palmwoods and was shocked when she received her first six monthly rates notice for more than $1000.

She said the unimproved value of her rural land was about $80,000 and the facilities in Imbil were not on par with what Gympie residents had access to, even though the minimum rate payable is the same in both areas.

In fact all of Gympie Regional Council has the same minimum rate of $833.30 a year, no matter if you live on the coast or out west.

Whereas Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) with a larger number of rate payers, uses a rating system based solely on the value of land, with the minimum amount payable for residential land starting at $912 per year for land valued at up to $250,000.

Gympie Regional Council (GRC) Mayor Ron Dyne said, while he didn’t have the figures in front of him yesterday, the SCRC could spread the cost of running the council and providing services over a lot more ratepayers and didn’t have the 6000 square kilometres that GRC looked after.

He said all council’s had to set a minimum rate and “all councils” had to “get in a certain amount of money to run the council”.

“Why are we paying so much in a little town with no facilities to speak of?” Ms Wilson asked yesterday.

“The premier is encouraging people to move to the country but why would you go?”

Ms Wilson said if she had of known how much her rates would have been before moving to Imbil she would have reconsidered and she urged people to ask why.

“Amalgamation was supposed to be cheaper. We moved here because we couldn’t afford it at the coast.”

But Ms Wilson said once you factored in travel costs and rates it might work out the same to buy at the coast.

“Where’s the money going? (Council’s) not budgeting very well if they keep hitting the public more and more every year.

“It just doesn’t make sense and seems very wrong, where’s the money being spent here?

“Council is...making it harder, they should tighten their belt rather than choking the people living in this area.”

Yesterday Gympie Regional Council’s Corporate Governance and Finance Committee chair Cr Donna Neilson said the Gympie Region’s minimum rates were just the basic cost that council needed to receive in order to provide services.

Add to that cost an infrastructure, environment, waste management, sewerage and cleansing levy along with a water access and an average water charge and Imbil residents with land valued about $139,000 are paying about $4 a year less in rates than Nambour residents.

That figure is based on land in Nambour valued up to $238,000 (which would place them up to the minimum rate of $912) including water and sewerage charges – which are now contracted out to private companies – and applying discounts for on time payment.

Land in Imbil would have to be valued at more than $130,000 for a resident to have to pay more than the minimum rate.

In June GRC was owed over $3 million in rates revenue.

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