Fewer residents sent final notices for unpaid rates

Most ratepayers in the Macedon Ranges are paying their rates in full and on time, with council data showing the number of ratepayers sent final notices has decreased in recent years.

This is despite the number of rateable properties steadily increasing each year.

A total of 1463 people had been sent a final notice for unpaid rates as of July, down from 1530 at the same time last year.

The number of ratepayers increased by more than 200 to 21,526 in the same period. Corporate services director Glenn Owens said the number of final notices also decreased over the previous two years.

He said in those cases where rates were not paid by the end of the financial year, very few resulted in legal proceedings.

‘‘The vast majority of ratepayers paid their council rates in full by four instalments during 2013-14 and 2014-15, with seven per cent being sent a final notice,’’ Mr Owens said. ‘‘Council will only engage the services of a debt collection agency if rates remain unpaid after both a courtesy letter and final notice have been sent.’’

He said that by this stage most cases of overdue rates will have been paid.

Mr Owen urged anyone having trouble paying their rates to talk to the council about hardship provisions.

‘‘Our rates staff carefully balance the importance of collecting rate revenue with sensitivity to each ratepayer’s circumstances.

‘‘Council approaches these cases carefully and with sensitivity, in case of financial hardship or other difficulties.’’

Options can include flexible payment arrangements, such as fortnightly direct debits.

Rates will increase by an average of 4.8 per cent under the council’s recently adopted 2015-16 budget. This equates to an additional $84 for a median house valued at $445,000.