A council report revealed the council is owed $20.5 million from ratepayers and third parties, which is an increase of about $6 million from the end-of-year debtors figure last financial year. Picture: File
A council report revealed the council is owed $20.5 million from ratepayers and third parties, which is an increase of about $6 million from the end-of-year debtors figure last financial year. Picture: File

$20.5m owed: ‘Gentle’ reminders to be sent to ratepayers

WHITSUNDAY council is owed more than $20 million from ratepayers and third parties.

In the ordinary meeting in Proserpine on Wednesday, the councillors reviewed the debtor report for the first quarter of the 2020-21 financial year.

The report revealed the $20.5 million owed was an increase of about $6 million from the end-of-year debtors figure last financial year.

Council’s corporate services director Jason Bradshaw said the number was generally “consistent” with the past few financial years

“It’s important to note given the times that we’re in that we’re generally satisfied,” he said.

The council is owed $20.5 million from ratepayers and third parties. Picture: File
The council is owed $20.5 million from ratepayers and third parties. Picture: File

“While we know there are a number of sectors in the community, particularly those in the tourism-related businesses, that are finding difficult times in the current environment, we’re generally seeing people negotiating with their repayment plans at this point in time.

“Aside from perhaps a few sectors, it’s relatively consistent with what’s happening in previous collection periods.”

The increase mainly comes from rates and charges and a change in the rating and council officers said a change in the collection cycle was one of the reasons for the higher amounts owed.

COVID was identified as another contributing factor as the council had not sent up follow-up letters on overdue rates because of the current economic conditions.

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The council will now begin to send out a “gentle reminder” to residents with overdue rates and charges.

Debts owed to the council also includes about $645,000 from Virgin Airlines and Tiger Airways, both of which are under administration arrangements.

While general rates were not increased in this year’s council budget, there were increases to water and waste charges.

In the past, the debt figures were discussed in the confidential section of the meeting.

However, Mr Bradshaw said figures would now be discussed in the open session for the public.