Rates hike sparks community outrage
MARANOA Regional Council rates notices have hit letterboxes for the first time since the newly adopted budget included a rates rise.
As a result of the 2017-18 council budget released at the end of July, the minimum general rate, cents in the dollar rate and service charges have increased by an average of 3.37%.
Residents said they expected a rates freeze or reduction after the Valuer-General reported a 54.6% drop in median residential land value across the region last year.
Lifelong Roma resident Helen Murphy falls into the Residential C category (land value $70,001-$200,000) and her land is valued at $74,000.
According to Ms Murphy's rates notice, she has to pay the minimum general rate on her property.
Rates are calculated on each property by multiplying the value of the land by the rate in the dollar.
"When the rates are calculated with the rate in the dollar figure, I'm actually paying rates that are the equivalent of a property valued at over $88,000,” Ms Murphy said.
"Because I'm paying the minimum rate for my category, I'm paying $200 more each year than I should be.
"People see the word 'minimum' and think they're paying the least amount for their rates, when they're not,” Ms Murphy said.
"That's smoke and mirrors, it's not legit.”
Erika Toth has owned a residence in Roma for the past 11 years.
Ms Toth's property was valued at $132,000 until last year's revaluations, when it decreased to $59,000.
"Despite my land value decreasing, my rate in the dollar has doubled,” Ms Toth said.
"Don't we elect councillors to do what the people want?
"I thought we elected them to represent us.”
Deputy Mayor Jan Chambers said the region had 6990 rateable properties and 50 different categories of rates.
"There is definitely some misunderstandings in the community about what valuations mean for ratings,” Cr Chambers said.
"In the case of rating, the valuations are simply the method used to allocate the cost of providing services across the community.
"If the valuations go down, it doesn't mean that it costs any less to provide the service,” she said.
"Rating categories have changed because it was the best way of trying to group properties that had similar valuation impacts,” she said.
"The categories enable council to set the rate in the dollar so that enough revenue can still be collected to provide the services required.”
Cr Chambers said 978 ratepayers will see a reduction in their rates of greater than 10%, and 2163 ratepayers will see a reduction between 0 and 10%.
Cr Chambers said councillors would be meeting with communities across the region throughout October and November to discuss residents' priorities for council in their local area.