- Friday 25 February 2011
In January 2010, Sunshine Coast Council sought to contact owners and mortgagees of 217 properties by mail, whose rates arrears had exceeded three years.
Aware that some residents may be facing financial hardship due to the financial crisis or similar, council followed up with phone calls and were able to arrange payment options for those in such a position.
Some residents were referred to the Department of Communities housing services to determine if they qualified for mortgage relief loans. Payments and arrangements have resulted in council reducing the longer-term outstanding rates arrears bill by $1.43 million.
Council finance chair Cr Chris Thompson said it had been important to work co-operatively with the affected home-owners, dealing with a variety of situations and circumstances.
"We have been working in partnership with affected owners in an endeavour to reach arrangements which everyone can live with," he said.
"These things are never easy for any of us, but I believe we have arrived at a good outcome overall."
As at January this year, the list of properties with outstanding rates arrears has been reduced to 64 with outstanding arrears of $842,000, council's manager of finance Michael Costello said.
"Yesterday council resolved to take action so the community would not be required to bear the burden of any long-term rates debts," he said.
"We are now bound to commence procedures under Chapter 2, Part 12, Division 3 of the Local Government Act 2009 (Finance Plans and Reporting Regulation) to recover outstanding rates and charges by way of sale of land for all properties, with overdue rates for a period greater than three years as at November, 2009 with the exception of eligible pensioners and owner occupiers without a mortgage.
"A public auction for that purpose will be concluded no later than 30 October 2011."