The $65 economic development levy, which helped fund the Rattler, is contributing to Gympie's levies and charges being among the state's highest.
The $65 economic development levy, which helped fund the Rattler, is contributing to Gympie's levies and charges being among the state's highest. John McCutcheon/185062

Gympie rate bills' levies, charges among Qld's highest

HOW do Gympie's rates compare to other places?

If not the million-dollar question, it is at least worth a few thousand.

It turns out that, like all good relationships, the one between ratepayers and the council can be answered with "it's complicated" - a combination of highs and lows.

Data from the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs showed in 2016-17 Gympie ratepayers paid the eighth-highest separate charges of all Queensland councils.

RELATED: Farmers fuming over 10 per cent rate hike

A total of $213 per ratepayer was raised through the Economic Development Levy, Environment Levy and Roads and Infrastructure Charge.

This had a big impact on the bills that landed in people's letterboxes.

 

Gympie Council CEO Bernard Smith and Mayor Mick Curran.
Gympie Council CEO Bernard Smith and Mayor Mick Curran. Renee Albrecht

Measured on the minimum rate payable alone across the region, the five Gympie regions - Gympie, Tin Can Bay, Imbil, Southside and Kilkivan - ranked in the top 40 per cent of all Queensland councils.

With the charges added (minus water and sewage, which not all councils tack onto their rates bills), the cost was driven into the state's top third, more expensive than Gladstone, Noosaville, Brisbane City, Logan City, Noosa Shire (except the headlands) and Moreton Bay but cheaper than Hervey Bay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Maryborough.

And what of the discount that gives those eager to foot the bill a break?

In that financial year the council's average discount to the ratepayer of $226 was in the top quarter of the state.

That is great news for those who pay on time, which has been an ongoing issue in the region.

In 2009-10 and 2010-11, the level of rates arrears in the region was beneath 10 per cent.

 

Gympie Councillors Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Deputy Mayor Bob Leitch, Mayor Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald.
Gympie Councillors Hilary Smerdon, Dan Stewart, Glen Hartwig, Deputy Mayor Bob Leitch, Mayor Mick Curran, Bob Fredman, Mal Gear, Daryl Dodt and Mark McDonald. Renee Albrecht

It ballooned to 12 per cent in 2011-12 and although the council clawed it down to 10.1per cent in 2016-17 the region still sits in the bottom third of all councils when it comes to how many people have fallen behind.

The high level of separate charges is not a new issue though, with the fees costing ratepayers $200 a year since at least 2009-10.

This is on top of a minimum rate charge that from then until this budget has inflated 34per cent - from $883 to $1183.

Note: Gympie Regional Council is rated as Category 3 by the State Government, which puts it inside the 20th- 37th per cent of all 77 councils when ranked by size.

Big space, few residents means rates a 'balancing act'

WHILE residents may debate how fair their rates are, Mayor Mick Curran has said the combination of 7000sq km of land, 2300km of roads and only 50,000 people made it a balancing act.

"When you compare some of these rates it's like comparing apples with pears," Cr Curran said.

"If you compare us with Noosa they've got a similar land size but much less road to look after.

"If you look at Brisbane the garbage truck can drive 5km and pick up 5000 bins; in the Gympie region to provide that service... the garbage truck can drive 5km and not pick up one bin."

 

Councillors vote during this year's budget..
Councillors vote during this year's budget.. Phil Coquerand

It was also compounded by the fact that 40 per cent of the region was state or natural forest, and unrateable, he said.

State Government data shows levies and charges as the state's eighth highest.

"That (economic development) levy can be changed from year to year depending on whether the council still has the appetite to provide projects which we believe will add to the economic development of the region," he said.

Rates were driven by three factors: property value; number of rateable properties; and cost to run the council (which this year went up 2.48 per cent, from $71.4 million to $73.1 million).

He said only that last was in council's control.

"The biggest factor that comes back when any council levies rates is how much it costs to run council and provide the services that our community expects," he said.

BASELINE

Minimum rate payable in 2016-17 (minus charges)

* Hervey Bay: $1757

* Townsville: $1551 (East), $1558 (West)

* Maryborough: $1431

* Sunshine Coast: $1284 (Maroochydore, Coolum, Caloundra), $1166 (Nambour, Beerwah)

* Brisbane: $1178

* Gympie: $1155

* Noosa: $1081 (Cooroy, Tewantin, Pomona), $1156 (Noosaville), $1268 (Noosa Heads)

* Moreton Bay: $940 (all except North Lakes, which is $993)

* Gold Coast: $922

Gympie Times


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