Council reviews pension discount
INDEPENDENT retiree Dan Kent welcomes any move that would see him pay even a little less on his rates bill every six months.
So he was happy yesterday to learn Bundaberg Regional Council had decided to review the way it calculates discounts on its general rates bills for the 2011/12 financial year.
At present, the council takes the $45 pensioner rebate off the general rate first, then takes off the 10% early payment discount from the remainder.
On a hypothetical general rates bill of $500, the pensioner rebate of $45 would reduce it to $455, then the early payment discount would cut that to $409.50.
If the council used the alternative method of allowing the early payment discount first, the balance payable after the rebates would be $405.
At a meeting yesterday, the council approved a motion by finance portfolio spokesman Cr Greg Barnes that acknowledged the community backlash at the way the rebates were applied.
The council also agreed the documentation and methodology of the way the rebates were applied would be reviewed during the framing of its next budget.
In a report prepared for the council, revenue manager Rob Callander said two legal opinions on the matter had been requested from solicitors, and both agreed the council was applying the rebates properly.
Retiree Mr Kent said pensioners were still upset the discounts no longer applied to fees and charges, rather than just general rates.
“We’re happy when anything reduces the bottom line we have to pay,” he said.
“What’s been done by taking the discount off fees and charges is increasing the bottom line this time.”
Mr Kent said with the change, he would expect the number of people who could not pay their rates early and did not qualify for the discount would increase.
“People have been living off their nest eggs and that’s shrinking.”