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Budget To Hit Rural Landholders

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Most South Burnett residential ratepayers will face an average 2.5 per cent rate rise from July 1, but rural landholders could face rises as high as 6 per cent

June 25, 2018

Farmers could face rate rises of between 5 and 6 per cent following the scrapping of the South Burnett Regional Council’s controversial $200 annual road levy.

The road levy, and the $29-a-year Environmental Levy, will be included in general rates from July 1.

The move was announced in Council’s Budget on Monday.

The change to the Road Levy will convert it from a flat annual fee for all ratepayers into a charge that is tied directly to a property’s valuation.

This means large rural landholders will now pay more towards the cost of road maintenance than average householders in the region’s towns.

Council’s 2018-19 Budget was handed down at a special meeting in Kingaroy on Monday morning.

For most South Burnett homeowners the changes will mean a 2.5 per cent rise in their rates bill next year, but it will also mean future rate rises will be calculated from a larger base.

This year’s Budget also includes a $14-per-year rise in the Waste Management Levy to help cover the future costs of landfill waste disposal as the region’s tips rapidly fill.

The Council will also reduce water usage fee scales from a six-tiered system to three, which means a 7 per cent rise in water usage charges for Tier 1 users, ie. average households.

However, because water usage is charged in arrears, this increase won’t begin to appear on rates notices until February 2019.

Waste collection charges will also rise by $4 per year for residents who receive a kerbside garbage collection service.

Not-for-profit community groups who were formerly provided with free water, sewerage and waste collection services will now be required to pay between 12.5 per cent and 50 per cent of the annual cost.

On the plus side of the ledger, Council will retain its 10 per cent discount for the prompt payment of rates.

It will also retain its $200-per-year pensioner rates discount and continue to give most community groups 100 per cent rate exemptions, two concessions that will cost the Council more than $1 million during the coming year.

* * *

On Tuesday, South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell moved to clarify the Council’s position on subsidies for not-for-profit community groups.

“Over the recent months there has been some angst surrounding Council’s recent decision to review its level of support to local community and sporting groups through its rate remissions,” the Mayor said.

“At the Special Meeting of Council on Monday to adopt the 2018/19 budget, Council considered a proposal where the revised rate remissions will be implemented on a sliding scale over the next two years.”

The Mayor said it was important to note that the majority of community groups and sporting clubs will still be receiving a 100 per cent remission on their general rates and levies.

However, they will now have to pay for their waste services, water and sewerage access in full, or pay a percentage of the access fee.

“What we are asking is that our local organisations and groups who own property contribute something towards the cost of providing water, sewerage and waste collection”, Mayor Campbell said.

“Council will still be providing approximately $260,000 in rate remissions, which equates to approximately $15 per ratepayer.”

* * *

On Wednesday, Mayor Keith Campbell further explained details of the pensioner rebate:

“In previous years, pensioners received a $200 rebate from Council,” he said.

“This year, with the Road Levy being rolled into the General Rates, the rebate is still $200 for pensioners.

“With Council’s Rebate of $200 per annum plus the State rebate of $200 per annum, this gives pensioners a combined total (rebate) of $400 per annum maximum.

“Any pensioner who has a Blue Queensland Pensioner Concession Card issued by Centrelink or the Department of Veterans Affairs, or any pensioner who has a Health Card for All Conditions (Gold Card) issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the property they are paying rates on is their principle place of residence, qualifies for a Pensioner Rebate on Rates under the State Government Pensioner Rebate scheme.”

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