ACTION FINALLY: Local government leaders will travel around the Central Highlands and educate ratepayers about where their money will be spent. jac-011010-009
ACTION FINALLY: Local government leaders will travel around the Central Highlands and educate ratepayers about where their money will be spent. jac-011010-009

Rates clarification

THE Central Highlands Regional Council has done “too little too late” in its handling of the rates parity issue crippling Central Queensland farmers, says Toprain Progress Association secretary Rex Kirk.

CHRC Mayor Peter Maguire announced this week the council would undertake a communication and education program in February to inform residents and ratepayers of what was happening across the region.

But according to Mr Kirk, the program will come too late for farmers who cannot afford to pay their current rates.

“We’ve already had community meetings so we’re really looking for something more directly involved between the leaders of our ratepayers’ groups and the council,” Mr Kirk said.

“It’s not the best course of action because, quite frankly, we can’t wait until February.”

The CHRC will work with local government and valuation specialists to explain how the council must, in accordance with law, operate under the new rating strategies which were enforced in 2008 under council amalgamations.

Cr Maguire said the council had received understandable feedback from ratepayers that the processes currently in place needed to be clarified and made more transparent.

“It is clear that we need to communicate all of the factors that are relevant in budgeting such as the requirements of the Local Government Act and regulations on how to categorise, levy and collect rates as well as other charges such as water, cleansing and other services, and the compilation of the budget and levels of service delivery,” he said.

“I have told our senior managers and councillors to be prepared to be on the road for a week as we go out to the communities and have some serious discussions about future community needs.”

However, Mr Kirk said more community meetings were not the solution.

“We are worried it’s just going to be a talkfest and not going to achieve anything,” he said.

“We need to be sitting down and identifying where the problems are.

“It’s not the best course of action because, quite frankly, we can’t wait until February.”

Toprain Progress Association secretary Rex Kirk


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