Retiree Barrie McLellan mulls over apparent discrepancies on his rates statement.
Retiree Barrie McLellan mulls over apparent discrepancies on his rates statement. Max Fleet

Retirees hit with huge rate rise

RESIDENTS at The Lakes Retirement Village have been slugged with a 36% increase in their general rates in their latest bill.

But Bundaberg Regional Council says it is part of a four-year progression to bring them into line with residents of other retirement villages in the region.

Lakes resident Barrie McLellan said the retirement village was different to others because residents owned their houses and land, whereas homes in other villages were leasehold.

“We want to pay our own way, but we're being treated like cash cows,” he said.

“The roads in the village are all our own roads. If there's a pothole we pay to fix it.”

Mr McLellan said water came into the village through one pipe and was metered, and residents each had to pay a water access charge as well.

“The only thing we get from the council is waste removal,” he said.

“They say we access the roads outside the village and use the library and other facilities, but so does every tourist.

“Everybody in the village is prepared to pay their share, but we feel we're being abused.”

Mayor Lorraine Pyefinch said because of the council's privacy policy, she could not comment on specific cases.

But she could say the council rated on property valuations, and in the last revaluation some people had been treated generously and that affected their rates.

“The rates increase was not 6% across the board, it was an average of 6%,” she said.

Cr Pyefinch said the council tried to soften the rates blow from revaluations, but could only go so far.

She said under legislation the general rate was applicable to all ratepayers, and regardless of where they lived they should all pay roughly the same.

“People who live in remote areas still use roads, street lights and other facilities,” she said.

“We have set up a system where we try to charge people about the same.”

Cr Pyefinch said compared to other councils in Queensland, Bundaberg was doing well.

She said if the council was not going to get financial support from the state government, it had no choice but to look at the people who used the services.

“Only ratepayers who have services pay for them,” she said.

On the issue of The Lakes, council CEO Peter Byrne said before the council amalgamation, residents were only paying about $50 in rates.

“We decided over a four-year period we would bring them in line with other strata title owners,” he said.

“We have spoken to The Lakes people to keep them fully informed of what was happening.”

Cr Pyefinch said the council could have hit The Lakes residents with the full rate in the first year, but had factored it in over four years.

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