Council reveals unpaid rates bill

THE council is looking into ways to recover millions of dollars in unpaid rates across the region.

While the council is owed more than $94 million in rates and levies, it expects most of this will be paid as required by October 5, when the time for locals to pay their rates expires.

However, this amount also includes $33,873,455 in payments which had not been received before the most recent rates notices were sent out.

Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell said the outstanding payments were something the council was looking to improve.

"As part of our financial efficiency, we're looking closely at the unpaid rates," Cr O'Connell said.

He said the removal of the 1% surcharge for people looking to pay their rates via credit card should encourage more people to pay on time.

This strategy could help turn around a four-year trend of increases in the rate arrears on the Fraser Coast.

Since the 2009 - 2010 financial year, the ratio of unpaid rates compared to paid has increased by almost 14%.

This includes a massive 8% increase in the unpaid rates this year.

In the council's Performance Report, it states that any increase over 5% requires corrective action, with anything under 4% being considered a good result.

Still, Cr O'Connell did not seem too concerned.

"Councils can always recover their debts," he said.

He said the council would help people by offering payment plans to reduce their debt over time.

"We are sympathetic to people in need, but at the end of the day we are running the council as a business and it is beholden on us to take measures to recover the rates."

Cr O'Connell said that as a last resort, the council always has the authority to auction off properties where rates have not been paid.

There was one such auction earlier this year, where a total of $177,000 was raised by selling four properties where the owners had failed to pay rates over a period of time.

This included a nut farm in Tiaro and a home in Maryborough, along with vacant blocks of land.

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