RATES WORRIES: Livingstone Shire mayor Bill Ludwig talks about the 2017-18 budget.
RATES WORRIES: Livingstone Shire mayor Bill Ludwig talks about the 2017-18 budget.

Outrage as rates rise, families struggle to pay

LIVINGSTONE Shire residents were left outraged on July 31 when rates notices began to turn up in their letterboxes.

One angry local took to popular Facebook Page, Yeppoon Families, to vent her frustrations and to see if she was alone in the rate rise debacle.

The Yeppoon woman, who admits she is a hoarder of paperwork, went back and tracked the increases in the rates for what she described as a relatively small land block in Lammermoor.

What she found was over a six year period there had been a 49.96% rate increase in the Livingstone Shire, according to her calculations.

Immediately the woman's Facebook post received likes and comments with people sympathising with similar stories in the area.

One resident said she had noted the Livingstone budget promised a 3.9% increase but she had recorded an alleged 10% increase since her last notice.

Another family reported they were forking out as much as $10.45 a day for rates.

One coast woman says her and her family have been caught out with the price of the rates this time round. Usually paying off their rates weekly the family made the decision not too this time round. Consequently they have to pay $365 a week over the next five weeks to meet payments. Which the woman says leaves a big whole in their budget.

Residents living in places with limited phone service such as Bungundarra are also fed up.

One local Facebook user reported their rates have risen by $200 without them seeing the benefits such as fixed roads or service in their area.

With over 100 outraged locals commenting on the post, the general consensus, according to those who posted, was that Livingstone rates had risen by $150 to $200 since the last notices were sent out.

Livingstone Shire Council however maintained the general rate increase was 3.9% and was an average calculated across the entire shire.

A spokesperson from the council said the general rate was calculated by setting a rate in the dollar for each rating category and applying it to the land valuation, those of which are conducted by the Valuer-General independently of Council.

"Recent valuations varied widely across the Shire; some by more than 25%. A majority of residential area valuations have decreased,” a Livingstone Shire Council spokesperson said.

"Properties whose value remain unchanged may still receive a rate increase which varies from the average, as the value of other properties in the same rating category may have decreased.”

According to council all other separate rates and utility charges have increased by 3.9%, however service changes varied depending on the services received.

"The elected Councillors, who adopt the budget which determines rate increases, are very aware of the pressures in the community and are seeking to minimise rate increases while still ensuring residents receive the utmost in service provision,” the spokesperson said.