SEVERAL property owners will receive what will likely be unwelcome news very soon.
Leeton Shire Council has signaled the need to revisit its chargers to 29 "non-rateable" properties and the rates and charges for three community organisations to clarify the rationale and ensure equity fairness.
Under the Local Government Act, there are 177 properties in Leeton that do not have to pay rates.
These are mainly churches, schools, social housing and any other properties on Crown Land.
Based on a 2007 council resolution, 29 properties receive "variable combinations" of other relief from charges as well that are ordinarily payable, such as water and water usage, sewer charges, waste collection and stormwater levies.
There are also three community groups which receive benefits not ordinarily available to others, including relief from rates.
Council has only recently made the discovery of these properties following an in-depth look at the books by finance manager Jackie Hawkins.
General manager Jackie Kruger explained staff were looking to "tidy" the arrangements going forwards, so there is full transparency, clear rationales recorded on the books as to the basis for the relief offered and a system that is fair and equitable to all concerned.
In a report to council, Ms Hawkins proposed non-rateable properties should pay annual and user charges, but with the lowest rate category applied, being residential.
She also recommended they pay full water usage and waste collection charges.
In regards to the community groups, she recommended they be invoiced for their rates and all charges, but that a subsidy be offered on application to the general manager to keep the payments affordable.
Councillors agreed with these recommendations, but insisted the proper consultation with all of those affected be carried out immediately.
"This is simply a legacy issue that has gone under the radar for many years and we need to ensure any new term of council understands who is being afforded relief from rates and/or charges," mayor Paul Maytom said.
Councillor George Weston said it was important the affected groups did not just receive a letter in the mail, but he felt the matter needed to be addressed face-to-face where possible and the engagement needed to be "sensitive".
In response to a question from councillor Tony Reneker about the details of the consultation process going forwards, Mrs Kruger explained initial consultation will be with affected parties only where after a report will be brought back to council on the findings and a proposed way forward.
After that any ongoing relief will have to go back out for wider public consultation before it can be adopted by council.
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