UPDATE: Council responds to Lupton Park rates issue
IN ALL the years Freda McLintock has worked for the Lupton Park Community Garden, she says she's never seen a rates notice.
But the Maryborough woman was shocked to hear the community-run garden had recently received a notice claiming they owe thousands in council rates.
The park's committee now fear they will be closed because they cannot afford to pay the hefty rates bill.
Ms McLintock, who has been a committee member since the park was first founded, said the only income the park made was from a few raffles held through the year and plant sales, which only netted a few hundred dollars.
"We just cannot afford to pay the rates bill," Ms McLintock told the Chronicle.
"I've been here for the whole time the park has operated, and this is the first time we've received a rates notice."
Committee member Dot Leitner said the money that was raised from fundraising would go straight back into managing the park.
She claimed even if the committee were able to raise the necessary funds to pay the rates, it would leave them with no money to run the park.
"At the end of the day, we still have to pay for running costs like soil and mower fuel, which we raise through our raffles and plant sales" Ms Leitner said.
"We don't think it's fair they're charging us at all, it's heartbreaking."
The Fraser Coast Regional Council has responded to the situation with the Lupton Park Community Garden's rates bill, claiming the group has not received a general rates notice and does not owe "thousands in rates."
Councillor Paul Truscott clarified estimate of the rates notice supplied to the group indicates that the charges and fees would total about $1500, which would be issued in three notices across the year.
"While the council gives the community group a 100 percent concession on general rates it still charges the Disaster Management, a waste service fee, water access charge (50 percent concession), water consumption charge (50 percent concession) and sewerage access charge (50 percent concession)," Cr Truscott said.
"The notice also includes the State Government Emergency Management Levy.
"These same charges are applicable to all land leased by community groups from council."
The Lupton Park Community Group was established, and entered its first lease with Council, in 2014.
The lease contained the standard condition that the group was responsible for payment for water and other charges.
Cr Truscott said during the lease negotiations it was confirmed that a separate water meter would be installed by Council within Lupton Park to specifically service the lease area only.
"However, the separate water meter was not installed until 2017, and therefore the group was not invoiced for water charges or general rates and charges for the duration of the three year lease period," he said.
"On entering a new lease in 2017, the lease again contained the standard conditions, consistent with the Policy, and, as the separate water meter had been installed by this time, the water consumption charges were then applied."
Cr Truscott said negotiations between the group and the council were ongoing.