Mayor Peter Maguire.
Mayor Peter Maguire. Meghan Kidd EME251113blueridge33

Central Highlands rates shock

RATES notices were ripped open by residents across the Central Highlands and, while some felt "ripped off", others said they expected worse.

Kaylee Hunting had a 10-week-old baby at home and said the stress of having the rates notice come in would always be there.

"We worked out we are paying about $65 each week in rates, when you break it down," Mrs Hunting said.

"When you put that on top of your mortgage repayments and electricity, it really adds up."

In the 2012-13 year, Emerald's rates were the third-highest (comparatively) in Queensland, topped only by Surfer's Paradise and the Gladstone region's coastal paradise of 1770-Agnes Water.

Tony Reibelt has been in Emerald since 2008 and said he was shocked at what rates would cost him.

"My wife and I just received our rates bill and were a little surprised at how high it was - $1522 after the discount," Mr Reibelt said.

"What surprised us most was the increase in the land value since the last assessment.

"If the increase in land values is uniform throughout Emerald and the CHRC area - ours has gone from $122,000 to $133,000 - then the council must be experiencing a revenue windfall."

Mrs Hunting also said she was concerned about the land valuation process.

"We bought our house in 2006 and for the first two years, the value of the land didn't go up at all," she said.

"Since then, it has gone up every year but the value of our house definitely isn't going up."

The value of properties on Queensland rates notices is determined by the State Government, not local governments.

Central Highlands Mayor Peter Maguire said locals shouldn't be comparing three-monthly bills with six-monthly bills.

"People need to compare apples with apples as well, look at what (amount of water) you used last year at the same time and then look at this year," he said.

Both Mrs Hunting and Mr Reibelt said they were happy with the extended time to pay.

"I am thankful that we have two months to pay and receive the discount - and if council follows through on their promise to allow people to pay in instalments at zero interest, then that's great too," Mr Reibelt said.

Mrs Hunting said she would start paying weekly, to avoid rates shock.

Queensland's top 10 local government areas

Most expensive rates areas for financial year 2012-13:

1. Surfers Paradise

2. 1770-Agnes Water

3. Emerald

4. Blackwater

5. Tannum Sands

6. Cleveland

7. Airlie Beach

8. Thursday Island

9. Mission Beach

10. Innisfail

Your options in CH

 Pay up-front

 Pay in 60 days and retain discount period.

 Set up a payment plan with the council, interest-free and retain discount period.

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