Will council freeze our rates?
SOUTH Burnett residents are asking "what about me?" after Toowoomba Regional Council provided a welcome relief to drought-affected residents this week.
Toowoomba Regional Council has agreed to defer the payment of the Rate Notice and the Water Rate Notice issued during the first half of the 2018/19 financial year until the second Rate Notice, which will be issued during the half year ending June 30, 2019 (being March 5, 2019).
The deferment of payment is available to any ratepayer who is able to demonstrate eligibility for the Australian Government Farm Household Allowance as a direct result of the 2018/19 drought.
Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio said the decision would provide much-needed respite to residents who had been experiencing hardship.
"The Toowoomba region has been drought-declared for more than four years," he said.
Many South Burnett residents have also experienced the harsh effects of the drought, so does this mean the South Burnett Regional Council will follow suit?
Councillor Ros Heit said it was something that would have to be looked at.
"I would need to investigate it further," she said.
South Burnett Regional Council recently extended the due date on the current rates notice to November 7 to assist ratepayers.
However, acting mayor Kathy Duff wrote in a Facebook post recently it was definitely a possibility.
"We could offer extensions to farmers who are on Farm Household Allowance similar to what Toowoomba has done," she said.
"We already have options for payment plans and we will certainly look at what we can do around the Farm Household Allowance."
Cr Heit said she had taken plenty of calls about rates in the last few weeks.
"There have been some criticism regarding the rates recently," she said.
"In hindsight, the communication strategy could have been better."
Cr Heit welcomed any residents to pick up the phone if they had any concerns or if they were unsure about their rates.
"Call your local councillor if you have any questions," she said.