WHEN I got my Council rates notice this week, I almost fell off my chair!
I quickly reviewed the dates. Sadly, my eyes don’t need checking as the details were all correct: my six-month rate levy of $898.50 was bang on the money.
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Almost a grand, for six months worth of contributions towards new and improved services, roads, streetscapes and parklands throughout the Gold Coast.
Look, I’m all for spending money to keep our city moving forward – I know the City of Gold Coast chipped in, along with the state and federal governments, for the light rail and with a construction bill that exceeded $1 billion, it wasn’t cheap.
But still… Almost a thousand bucks? For six months?
I did a little calculation – mathematics isn’t my strong suit, so bear with me – and worked out that since I bought my house five years ago, my rates bills have increased by almost 50%.
Back then, my six-month rates notice was a touch over $600.
Five years later, my council rates are just shy of $900, with water – which is usually about the same – still to come.
I just dug out my rates and water bill from August 2009: It was $1,149. Combined.
So, while CPI has averaged 2 or 3 per cent each year, or a total of 10-15% in five years, my council rates have increased by 50%.
It doesn’t seem all that fair, does it?
The worst part is, there’s nothing we can do about it. If any other non-mandatory service increased its fees by 50% in five years, I’d hightail it out of there, or cancel my subscription, or shop around for a better deal.
But short of selling my home and moving into a rental, I can’t avoid being slugged with ever-increasing council bills.
It appears I’m not alone in my frustration and despair at the situation.
According to recent reports, thousands of Gold Coasters have been struggling to pay their council rates notices.
Last month, the City of Gold Coast voted to sell over 400 properties in an effort to recover more than $1.6 million in unpaid water and city council charges; the average outstanding debt for each household was around $4,000.
In last week’s Friday Flyer, I read that the Council is spending about $30,000 upgrading the pathways and completing “works” in my very own street. I guess if the Council weren’t around to pick up that bill, it’d be up to us as residents to fork out enough cash to keep our street looking pretty.
When I consider it that way, my $900 half-yearly bill doesn’t seem too bad.
At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
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