RATES: A Western Downs councillor made an unsuccessful attempt to increase rate discounts for the region’s ratepayers. Pic: Peta McEachern
RATES: A Western Downs councillor made an unsuccessful attempt to increase rate discounts for the region’s ratepayers. Pic: Peta McEachern

Councillor’s failed push for 10% rate discount

AS FINANCIAL pressure continues to mount on everyday Australians doing their best to get through a global pandemic- a Western Downs councillor made an unsuccessful attempt to increase rate discounts for the region's ratepayers.

Those who pay their rates on time, prior to the close of business on the due date usually receive a five per cent discount, although Western Downs Regional Council works and technical services councillor George Moore moved a motion to increase the discount for early payment by another 5 per cent at last week's Budget Meeting in Miles on Wednesday, July 22.

Speaking at the meeting, Cr Moore said he appreciated all the work that went into creating the budget, although rate payers in the region were doing it tough because of COVID-19.

"All our general rate payers (across the board) are hurting… it's about sharing the pain in the community for those who are hurting," Cr Moore said.

WDRC Finance, corporate services and business strategy councillor Ian Rasmussen opposed the motion to increase the rate discount, and cited the reason that the whole budget would need to be changed to account for the new expenditure.

"If we were to change the discount, we would have to change the whole budget," Cr Rasmussen said.

"If we were to give a larger discount at this stage of our budget preparation we would then have to restructure the CEO cut expenses, so that would be cutting stuff out of the community fund, we could close swimming pools, we could close cinemas… because that's the sort of thing we would have to do if we were going to cut money out of our budget.

"At this late stage we have two options; we either stay with the discount we are offering, which I'm sure people are quite happy with, or we put our budget back in the boat… and ask our staff to go away and prepare a new budget.

"I'm happy to stay with the discount on the payment of rates and charges which helps out the community by giving them a 5 per cent discount if they pay their rates on time."

Western Downs Regional Council handed down a 2.5 per cent for most ratepayers, which is an average of an additional $1.44 per week.

Despite Cr Moore's failed bid to push for a further rate decrease, the Western Downs Regional Council's 2020/2021 budget did include significant freezes on fees and charges.

This included; a 50% rates rebate for retailers, waiving of food licensing fees, dog registration fees, most building, plumbing, planning fees, food licensing fees, and infrastructure charges on targeted development approvals - also a freeze on pool entry fees, standpipe fees and showgrounds charges, and more.

Mr McVeigh said preparing this year's budget presented council's greatest challenge yet, but said council's financial management had ensured it was able to deliver stimulus that would have immediate, direct and long-lasting outcomes for families.

"This year has presented challenges like no one has ever seen before, and as a Council we are doing all we can to ensure our region bounces back from this crisis and moves forward with a strong future ahead," Cr McVeigh said.


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