Rate recovery auctions to affect six Whitsunday properties
THE council has dealt a further blow to the embattled O'Duinns Irish Pub, announcing the sale by auction of the Proserpine Main Street property in order to recover money owed in outstanding rates.
The property is one of six to be auctioned from the council's temporary office in Proserpine Main St at 11am on July 9.
Council chief executive officer Barry Omundson said despite best efforts to recover outstanding rates without legal action, there was a small proportion of ratepayer debt the council had to pursue through legal action.
"As a final stage in the debt recovery process, council is currently pursuing outstanding rates for six properties through the sale of the land, under powers of the Local Government Act," he said.
"Debt management is not a fun job and I am very thankful that we have a dedicated team of rates officers who work tirelessly with ratepayers to ensure debts are paid in a fair, sensitive and reasonable way.
"On a daily basis they are contacting ratepayers and encouraging them to enter into arrangements to avoid further actions to recover the debt.
"We don't just send letters. Our staff meet with the ratepayer wherever possible and discuss the debt and suitable payment options.
"But unfortunately there are some ratepayers who have let their rates bill slip into a state where the debt is so large and so old that council has no option but to take legal action to recover the debt, including in some cases to sell the property.
"It is not something we do lightly. For a property to be sold by council, the residential ratepayer has let the debt extend more than three years in arrears and the debt is considered by council to be unrecoverable through a payment arrangement."
Mr Omundson said during the 2017-18 financial year, the council would raise $80.7 million in rates and charges in order to provide essential services to the community.
"Around 80 per cent of ratepayers pay their rates prior to the due date, and take advantage of the discount," he said.
"Most of the remaining 20 per cent who do not pay by the due date Council is able to work with the ratepayer to make payment arrangements that ensures the rates are paid over a reasonable period.
"Active management of debtors is an important function of Council to ensure the rate burden is fair and equitable to all ratepayers.
"It is not unusual for council to be managing over 1000 payment arrangements with ratepayers, recovering in excess of $4 million of rates prior to the next rating period and avoid having to pursue legal action against the ratepayer."
Council has a rate relief advisory committee, which includes two community members, to review outstanding rates and provide recommendations on concessions to ratepayers experiencing hardship.
Ratepayers can submit a hardship application which is considered by the committee prior to council deciding if a hardship concession is suitable.
The doors of O'Duinns Irish Pub have been closed since it sustained damage from Tropical Cyclone Debbie which hit Proserpine in March last year.
For for a full list of properties listed for auction visit the Civic Alerts page of the Whitsunday Regional Council's website.