Moree Plains Shire Council managed to recover most of its outstanding debt at a sale of land for unpaid rates on Saturday.
About 30 people attended the auction, held at Moree Plains Shire Council committee room, and of the 32 properties up for auction on the day, all but four were sold.
Under Section 713 of the Local Government Act 1993, council has the ability to sell land on which any rate or charge has remained unpaid for more than five years, as well as vacant land where outstanding rates exceed the property value.
Council’s director of corporate services Mitchell Johnson said council was able to recover the outstanding rates on all but a few of the properties which sold on the day.
“On a few properties only, the remaining debt will be presented to council to be written off as a bad debt,” he said.
Mr Johnson said reverse prices were set in conjunction with the auctioneers, Moree Real Estate, and reflected the current market value of the land.
The proceeds of the sales will go to pay the outstanding rates, water and other charges associated with that property and recovery costs.
Any proceeds above the oustanding debt, including all costs associated with the sale process, will be forwarded to the former owner of the property after settlement.
The four properties which didn’t sell were burnt out units and council will now continue to follow the legislative requirements to recover the outstanding debt on those properties, including placing them on the next sale of land for unpaid rates if required.
Mr Johnson encourages any residents who may be struggling to pay their rates to contact council’s rates officers on 6757 3222.
“It really does not have to end this way,” he said.
“We understand the cost of living pressures facing many community members.
“There is the option to set up a payment arrangement to pay rates weekly, fortnightly or monthly to help ease the financial burden on a quarterly basis. In some instances hardship can be applied for which, if approved, means interest can be put on hold for a 12-month period, as long as payment agreement is adhered to.
“I cannot emphasise enough the importance of contacting council if you are having difficulty meeting your rates payment obligations.”