Legislation dismisses council's three years of 'fake fees'

WHEN a judge discovered last year that Fraser Coast Regional Council had illegally collected invalid rates for three years, dubbed 'fake fees', ratepayers were hopeful for a refund.

But a legislation passed this week has ensured residents won't be getting any of that money back.

Brisbane Supreme Court Justice David Jackson exposed the council when he highlighted it failed to pass a separate resolution to levy its rates and charges at annual budget meetings since 2014.

The legislation passed by government on Tuesday has validated those rates, meaning they are no longer deemed to have been taken from ratepayers unlawfully.

Ratepayer Allan Fuary, who is president of the Fraser Coast Ratepayers Association, said he was disappointed the council was not being held accountable for its error.

"I'm not in favour of making something that was illegal, legal after the event," Mr Fuary said.

"It's like dismissing a bank robbery, saying it's okay if the robber was in distress.

"This was not money the council was entitled to.

"They need to take some responsibility."

Fraser Coast Councillor Rolf Light said with or without the legislation, refunding ratepayers was "never going to happen" seeing as the money had already been spent.

He said the error had been "embarrassing" for the council, but thankful the legislation let them leave the event in the past.

"It is embarrassing, but we are moving forward as a council to fix these issue with the help from the Government," Cr Light said.

"Now, we have a legislation in place to rectify previous resolutions that might have not been completely inherent to legislation, and move forward."

Other Queensland councils who did not pass an annual resolution to levy rates and charges were put on edge from the judge's revelation.

But this legislation means they too, have been cleared.

Cr Light said the council would refrain from making the same mistake in the future, with effort now placed on making rates "fairer" and "simpler".
 



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