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New change to rates billing supports community recovery

11 August 2020

Southern Downs Regional Council continues to listen, respond and support our community as we face ongoing drought, bushfire recovery and COVID-19 uncertainty. One of the latest ways Council has listened and acted is the timely changes to how rates and charges are issued.

From this financial year, Council will move from a single annual rates notice and will instead issue two six-monthly notices to ease the financial burden on rate payers and businesses.

Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi said Council was mindful that recent events had taken a financial toll on the community.

“Council understands that our community is in unchartered territory on the back of drought, bushfires, and the global pandemic and is aware of the increasing financial weight this situation presents,” Mayor Pennisi said.

“With the financial welfare of our community in mind, all rates and charges will be billed together and issued in two smaller, six-monthly instalments in August and February, with the exception of water consumption notices.

“As water consumption charges are determined by the amount of water consumed as per meter readings, these notices will continue to be issued in two half-yearly notices in October and April.

Mayor Pennisi also stressed that rate-dollars would continue to be directed back into the region to maintain and deliver essential infrastructure and services.

“Your rates are invested directly back into your community to provide important infrastructure and services that make our region a better place to live and work including sporting fields, libraries, parks and playgrounds, waste management and community services.

“Rates also support initiatives focused on protecting our environment and maintaining our roads, bridges and footpaths.”

Council will continue to offer a discount of 7.5% on the current general rates to ratepayers who pay their rates notice in full within 60 days of the notice date.

Rates and charges may be paid outside the due date subject to an agreement between Council and the ratepayer, however discounts will not apply for these arrangements.

“I strongly encourage anyone who is having difficulties paying their notice by the due date to please contact Council, prior to the due date if possible, to organise a confidential payment agreement,” Mayor Pennisi said.

The recent 2020/21 Annual Budget delivered a zero per cent rate rise until the end of 2020 to support the community and regional economy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The actual rise of 1.9%, the lowest in more than a decade, will be offset by a COVID-19 Concession, which when applied at the time of billing on the rates notice equates to no cost increase to rate payers for the next six months.

The upcoming rates notices have also undergone a visual face lift. While they will look different, the relevant information will still be detailed.

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