Council to explain 5% increase in rates figure

THE Fraser Coast Council has moved to explain how it came to the 5% increase figure it said most ratepayers would experience.

Questions have been asked in the past fortnight after rates bills for 2013-14 began arriving in the letterboxes of homeowners.

Following reader requests, the Chronicle ran an online poll where people could make it known how much their rates went up, if at all.

The results indicated 83% of voters had experienced an increase of more than the 5% figure the mayor sold to residents.

But Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell continued to stand by the council's claims yesterday.

He said the average was calculated using the largest category of ratepayers as a representative group.

"Almost half of our ratepayers, more than 20,000 dwellings, are in Category Two," Cr O'Connell said.

"About 73% of those will pay an increase of $136 a year or $2.62 a week after discounts.

"Because it is the largest group it is considered to be representative. But it is a representative average only as some rates will go up and some will go down."

Council documents show the category made up 44% of rateable properties, and the mayor said there were other variables people needed to consider.

He said rates bills did not include water charges, which he said would lessen the average increase amount, and he said they did include some non-council-related charges.

"The rates notice contains other fees and charges such as the fire levy which is collected on behalf of the State Government," he said.

"These fees and charges are not included in the calculation when determining the percentage average rates increase.

"Rest assured that council does everything in its power to ensure that the rate rise is kept to a minimum while ensuring front

line services are not affected yet provides facilities needed by a growing community."

He said the council's operational budget after six years was just $200,000 more than in 2007-08.

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