Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

COUNCIL OWED $6M IN RATES Rates Increase Empties Pockets

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

COUNCIL OWED $6M IN RATES Rates Increase Empties Pockets

Article excerpt

Byline: Melissa Grant

THOUSANDS of Mackay households are struggling to meet basic living costs, including their rates bill, with Mackay Regional Council owed nearly $6million.

Council estimates about 4200 of its 46,000 ratepayers, both residential and commercial, have outstanding rates of $500 or more, totalling nearly $6million.

About 20% of the overdue payments relate to a large commercial development within the region, however many of those who owe rates money are everyday mums and dads who are struggling to make ends meet.

They cannot afford to pay residential rates, which rose 9.6% this year, but coupled with high service costs and levies jumped 13.36%. This was more than the previous 7.6% increase and meant about 60% of urban residential ratepayers were billed $2457.17.

Anglicare regional director John Langford said high living costs in Mackay were putting everyday families under enormous pressure. He said many were finding it increasingly difficult to afford basic living essentials such as food, clothes and petrol Co and some were also drowning in debt.

C[pounds sterling]Increasingly, there is uncertainty if they can afford what's necessary for their family's everyday wellbeing,C[yen] he said.

C[pounds sterling]Added to that is the problem that credit is so easily found these days. People have accumulated debts they cannot meet with their savings Co so they are behind the eight ball. They can never get up to date.C[yen]

Mr Langford said it wasn't surprising that Mackay Regional Council was owed so much in rates. Many people simply couldn't afford to pay them, he said.

C[pounds sterling]That's the problem Co everything is going up but our income is not going up relatively,C[yen] Mr Langford said.

Regional Social Development Centre's co-ordinator Deb Rae said although there was a perception that Mackay was a wealthy region, the Uniting Care report A Scan of Disadvantage in Queensland 2010 indicated that pockets of disadvantage did exist. …

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