Rates hike causes anger and disbelief

ON THE UP: Mayor Paul McVeigh delivering his 2017/18 Council Budget earlier this year.
ON THE UP: Mayor Paul McVeigh delivering his 2017/18 Council Budget earlier this year. MIchael Doyle

WESTERN Downs Regional Council half-yearly rates notices have arrived in the mail and ratepayers in Chinchilla have reacted with anger and disbelief, taking to Facebook to vent their frustration.

The cost of Chinchilla resident Tash Johnston's rates have risen from $952.75 in February of this year to $1438.36, an increase of $485.61 or 34%.

Meanwhile, the value of Ms Johnston's two acre property has plummeted from $133,000 in February this year to $93,000.

She said the rates hike is "wrong” and that she was "furious” when she received her latest notice in the mail.

"I'm still furious. That's a $1000 (annually), how are people expected to find that?” she said.

"Wages aren't going up like that, electricity here is going through the roof, people are already hurting, people are already sitting on properties they paid a fortune for that are now worth nothing. People are hurting bad enough as it is.

"It's been going up for the last few years but it's the worst hike I've noticed, which I think is wrong because our valuation has been dropping so badly but this is the worst one that I've seen.”

Ms Johnston, who lives in Chinchilla's Riverdell Estate, said she was not aware of any increase in council services in her area which may explain the rates hike over the past six months.

"I understand that council has bills to pay and facilities to up-keep but this is beyond a joke,” she said.

"There is no new services, nothing. We have no public parks where we live, no curbing or channelling and we are on a septic system, we are not connected to town sewerage.”

According to the 2017-18 Mayoral Budget Statement on council's website the average residential ratepayer is charged, after discount, $2,687 in Dalby $2,606 in Chinchilla and $2,528 in Miles.

Released in June, the 2017-18 Western Downs Regional Council Budget outlined a $100 rise in water access and sewerage charges in addition to a 2.9% general rates rise over the next year.

The waste collection charge will increase by 3.9% and the environmental waste charge for rural ratepayers will rise by $40, while the gas access charge will increase by $5 a month.

Ms Johnston said she didn't know what to expect when her next half-yearly rates notice arrived in February.

"I don't know, surely the council and the mayor himself wouldn't be stupid enough to approve another rate hike,” she said.

"Are they forgetting about the people who put them there and voted them in to these seats? We put them there with trust and they certainly haven't looked after us.”

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