QUEANBEYAN Mayor Tim Overall says an extraordinary meeting of Council has unanimously agreed to put all outstanding rates notices, levied as a result of an audit on Council’s property database, on hold. Cr Overall says he will now seek an urgent meeting between a delegation of Queanbeyan councillors and the NSW Minister for Local Government to try and have the retrospective rates and charges written off.
Cr Overall said at the meeting tonight Council also agreed to proceed with issuing refunds to the property owners due a refund.
“Council this evening unanimously agreed I write to the NSW Minister for Local Government The Hon Paul Toole MP proposing an amendment to the Local Government Act and Regulations that would allow Council to write-off, or waive retrospective charges. A delegation of councillors, led by myself, will seek a meeting with the Minister at the earliest possible time to try and have this vexing and upsetting matter resolved in the interests of all.”
“We will propose to the Minister that urgent consideration be given to enacting a new 2014 regulation or regulations providing discretion to councils under defined circumstances to waive or write-off supplementary rates and charges that have had to be levied retrospectively for past years, or alternatively a regulation restricting the amount of time councils can retrospectively levy supplementary rates and charges” Cr Overall said.
Cr Overall said the arrears involved over 800 properties in Queanbeyan, primarily business but also included NSW Government departments, schools and some community organisations. Residential properties are largely unaffected.
“Naturally there are many upset and worried property owners and organisations in the community and Council sincerely apologises for the concern this issue has caused. I will be doing everything I can to resolve this matter.
“Unfortunately the current Local Government Act is quite prescriptive on what Council can and can’t do in terms of levied rates. At the moment Council is unable to legally write off the rates and charges.
“I speak on behalf of all Queanbeyan councillors in saying we will continue to pursue this matter so that the community is not disadvantaged by Council’s errors with approximately five percent of past rates notices.”
In late 2013 Council staff identified anomalies in rating classifications for a number of properties while examining the rating and property database. This lead to a thorough examination of rating classifications across the entire database and it found about 2000 properties had been overcharged and warranted a rates and charges refund, while over 800 properties had been undercharged which meant that their rates were technically in arrears.
Cr Overall said he would continue to pursue all options available to resolve the matter.