No more lump sums

August 08, 2017

One Mooroopna ratepayer has questioned the council’s decision to remove a lump sum payment option from this year’s Greater Shepparton City Council rates.

After opening his rates notice last week, Allan Donaldson was ‘‘shocked’’ to find his preferred option of payment no longer available.

Mr Donaldson feels the council could have done more to communicate the change in payment options and has questioned the reasons behind the move.

But the council said the removal of the February lump sum payment option allowed Council to identify earlier those ratepayers who are having financial difficulty paying their rates’’.

The change was part of council’s 2017-21 rating strategy, which the council signed off on earlier this year.

And while the new strategy was unanimously voted for, councillors had flagged concerns about the removal of the February lump sum payment option at a meeting.

The strategy was out for public comment earlier this year, but no submissions were received on it.

Mr Donaldson believed the ‘‘poorly handled’’ move had been ‘‘sprung’’ on ratepayers, without proper notification or consultation.

He questioned whether the council was short of money.

Mr Donaldson had planned ahead with his business with the understanding the February option would be available to him.

‘‘It just takes out (ratepayers) budgeting, it’s been sprung on them without any pre-warning really…”

‘‘(I was) perfectly happy with the way that it’s been in the past,’’ he said.

Mr Teitzel said, historically, if a ratepayer missed the September first instalment it was assumed they were using the lump sum option in February.

‘‘But if they missed the February date, the ratepayer was left with four months to pay the rates,’’ he said.

‘‘This increased the chances of penalty interest and debt recovery costs being added.’’

In a pamphlet to ratepayers, the council said it would still accept payments in one lump sum, however, payments received after the first instalment date will incur penalty interest.

Council finance manager Matt Jarvis said in the past, the council had found it a challenge identifying those experiencing difficulty paying their rates.

He had hoped the changes would identify this sooner.

‘‘If we know in September, it’s clearly better for both parties,’’ he said.

Mr Jarvis said the costs associated with recovering rates could become an imposition to other ratepayers.

He encouraged those with concerns paying their rates to get in touch with the council.

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