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Several councils located in the Bowen Basin Local Government Area in Queensland are attempting to recoup $10 million in unpaid rates.
The Bowen Basin, which covers an area of approximately 600km long by 250km wide, extending from Collinsville to Moura, has been hit hard by the downturn in the mining industry with unpaid rates impacting heavily on council cash reserves. Mayor Kerry Hayes, of Central Highlands Regional Council based in Emerald, said, "At the moment we have about 16 properties we've indicated, and we've sent the letters out to those ratepayers ... this is the last course of action. As a council and as a business, if the money isn't coming in then obviously works and capital expenditure can't happen".
Pursuant to the Local Government (Finance, Plans and Reporting) Regulation 2010 properties can be sold by Council under s74:
74 Notice of Intention to Sell Land for Overdue Rates or Charges
(1) This section applies if--
(a) There are overdue rates or charges on land; and
(b) The liability to pay the overdue rates or charges is not the subject of court proceedings; and
(c) Some or all of the overdue rates or charges have been overdue for at least-
(i) Generally--3 years; or
(ii) If the rates or charges were levied on vacant land or land used only for commercial purposes, and the local government has obtained Judgment for the overdue rates or charges--1 year; or
(iii) If the rates or charges were levied on a mining claim--3 months.
(2) The local government may, by resolution, decide to sell the land.
(3) If the local government does so, the local government must, as soon as practicable, give all interested parties a notice of intention to sell the land.
(4) A notice of intention to sell is a document, signed by the chief executive officer, stating-
(a) That the local government has, by resolution, decided under this section to sell land for overdue rates or charges; and
(b) The day on which the resolution was made; and
(c) The terms of the resolution; and
(d) A description of the location and size of the land, as shown in the local government's land record; and
(e) Details of the overdue rates or charges for the land, as at the date of the notice, including details of the period for which the rates or charges have been unpaid; and
(f) Details of the interest that is owing on the overdue rates or charges, as at the date of the notice, including-
(i) Details of the rate at which interest is payable on the rates or charges; and
(ii) A description of the way the interest is calculated; and
(g) The total amount of overdue rates or charges and the interest, as at the date of the notice; and
(h) A copy, or a general outline, of sections 75 to 78.
Local Government Association of Queensland Chief Executive, Greg Hallam, said in a statement to ABC Capricornia, "For every person that doesn't pay their rates, another person has to pay for them, so it's not all equitable or ethical".
This article does is not intended to be, and does not constitute legal advice.