Council looks to crack down on rate arrears

OWNERS of commercial, industrial and vacant land could soon have just 12 months to pay their rates or risk their property being sold.

The move comes as the Bundaberg Regional Council cracks down on rate arrears, nearing the amount at which auditors will be sent in to review the issue.

At a Briefing Meeting of the council this week, it was revealed seven Bundaberg properties were in the red.

And as a result, could be up for sale if the decision is passed at an Ordinary Meeting of council next week.

The news stirred mixed reactions among the business community.

Harry's Mowers co-owner Julie Sanderson saw her business hit by the 2013 floods, and on top of the expense of repairs, faced a rates bill.

Without flood insurance and no money coming in, Mrs Sanderson said it was "a bit of an issue".

Choosing to defer their home rates and pay their business rates, she said her business had pulled through - but couldn't understand why such action would be taken against businesses.

"I can't see how they can sell our property if our rates are only a few months behind; it's only a couple of thousand dollars," he said.

Urban Development Institute of Australia president Bill Moorhead believed there were two categories of non payers.

"There's genuine hardship and deliberate non payment," he said.

Mr Moorhead said people struggling should go to the council to organise a payment arrangement.

"If you put your head in the sand, you deserve what you get," he said.

At a Briefing Meeting of Council this week, Bundaberg Regional Council Operational Services general manager Glenn Hart told the Briefing meeting: "In the Act it says if you issue a summons and give judgement on the rate arrears, then you're able to sell the property after 12 months' rates arrears.

"What we're seeking from council is direction to say, 'Yes we're comfortable to pursue that under that policy where we go and collect'."



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