Outstanding rates targeted

BE prepared – Bellingen Council is about to begin an ‘aggressive’ rate collection blitz.

Focus on the recovery of outstanding rates follows the revelation that outstanding rates in the shire sits at 12.3 per cent, up from 11.9 per cent last year and double the result for 2007.

This equates to a $1.2 million shortfall in the shire budget.

Director of corporate services, Peter Wilson, said the council was aware of the problem, explaining that lack of staff in the rate collection department (only one person and that individual having extended leave) was part of the problem.

Cr Bruce Cronin said the outstanding amount was equivalent to the council’s current operating budget and its recovery would certainly improve the council’s cash flow.

Cr Kerry Child clarified that ratepayers received notification of their outstanding rates prior to the issuing of a summons.

General manager, Mike Colreavy, confirmed that was the case and also warned councillors needed to ‘steel themselves for the reaction of residents’ when the new phase of intense rate recovery commenced.

“There will certainly be some indignation,” Mr Colreavy said.

“But too much has been outstanding for too long.

“Some people will only pay when we rattle the sabre.”

The mayor, Cr Mark Troy, said the council had a provision for those people who needed assistance and residents should talk to the council rather than letting the matter run to a court summons.

Mr Wilson said getting ratepayers who were having difficulties onto instalment plans was the council’s top priority.

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