Saturday, 19 September 2020
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Fire affected temporary rates extension

A temporary rates extension will be granted to Scenic Rim residents whose properties were damaged by bushfire between September 6 and 12 and November 8 and 12 - if they meet a range of criteria.

The announcement that Council rate payments could be deferred without penalty until December 2020 for properties directly affected by bushfires during those dates was made by Mayor Greg Christensen at 2.45pm on Christmas Eve.

The dates appear to relate to the Sarabah-Canungra-Beechmont bushfires (September 6-12) and the Moogerah-Clumber  and Tarome bushfires (November 8 to 21) - unfortunately, we were unable to confirm this. 

Fifteen minutes after the announcement, Council’s media department closed until January 6, so the Guardian was unable to garner any details beyond the four paragraph press release.

On searching through the Council’s website, we found a recommendation in the unconfirmed minutes of a closed session meeting, which was held on Tuesday, December 9.

As a result, it wasn’t possible to ask why there was a two week delay in announcing the opportunity to ratepayers hardest hit by the disastrous bushfires. 

Nor could we ask whether the rates deferral only applied to properties which were hit by bushfires on those specific dates as there have been major bushfires burning in the Fassifern area since Tuesday, October 8.

In the announcement on Christmas Eve afternoon, Cr Christensen said Council voted unanimously to extend the rates deferment period until the end of next year for affected ratepayers that fit the criteria.

“We recognise the bushfires have caused impacts to our communities and both rural and commercial businesses and this will allow those suffering hardship to have some breathing space, arrange insurance matters and get back on their feet,” said Cr Christensen.

“Eligible ratepayers can defer their rates payments without interest until 31 December 2020.

“If your property, or the land you usually make revenue from, has been physically impacted by the fires then Council encourages you to call Council’s Rates Department on 07 5540 5111 to discuss potential eligibility.”

According to the unconfirmed Council minutes from Monday, December 9, the rates concession relates to the: 

• Southern Queensland Bushfires: 6-12 September 2019;

• Eastern Queensland Bushfires: 8-21 November 2019.

And the conditions of the concession are:

• the ratepayer must apply in writing for the concession;

• the ratepayer must satisfy the authorised person assessing the application that physical damage caused by the applicable bushfire events has:

- impacted the liveability of their residences; or

- seen the commercial operations directly affected due to physical assets being severely damaged or lost; or

- impacted the capability of the land to garner revenue making opportunities generally associated with the prescribed description that the land is rated for;

• the ratepayer must provide the authorised person with particular information or documents, as requested, as evidence to support the claim; and

• the class of ratepayers and the concession is a temporary arrangement available only up to 31 December 2020.