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Council to auction properties to recoup unpaid rates

Geoff Helisma |

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) will auction up to 27 properties for which rates and charges have been overdue for five or more years.

The auction will be held at CVC’s 2 Prince Street, Grafton chambers from 6pm on Wednesday May 23.

Notwithstanding any negotiations between CVC and the affected ratepayers since the March council meeting, CVC is owed about $329,000 in unpaid rates and charges from the relevant properties, as at June 30, 2017.
The report to the March meeting stated: “Outstanding rates and charges and water consumption debts create cash flow deficits for Council.

“…In undertaking the sale of land process, Council will ensure that residents are treated fairly whilst continuing to provide efficient and effective services.”
The report noted that “none of these properties have had a pension rebate granted to their accounts”.
The sales will be carried out in accordance with Section 713 of the Local Government Act, which empowers councils to sell properties to recoup unpaid rates and charges when, in the case of vacant land, “it has remained unpaid for more than one year and the rates owing are higher than the [land’s] valuation” or “in the case of any other land, it has remained unpaid for more than five years from the date on which it became payable”.
The agent managing the sales on behalf of Elders Grafton, Jake Kroehnert, said that potential buyers cannot inspect the properties.
“There is no access to properties at all,” he said. “It’s a 100 per cent site-unseen auction.
“We are employed to handle enquiries from potential buyers and to advise them how to register.
“Our agency has no indication regarding reserve prices.
“They are set by the Valuer General within 24 hours of the auction.
“Our role is very minimal: the auctioneer is the negotiator and will be brought in on the night … independent of our agency.”
Most of the properties are located in the southern half of the valley, apart from one at Ulmarra and another at Tyndale.
Mr Kroehnert said that three properties – two in South Grafton and one in Grafton – had houses on them, “the rest are vacant blocks of land”.
“A lot of them, by looking at aerial maps, are mostly of interest to the people who own land around them,” he said.

The report to the March meeting noted that “if all rates and charges payable (including overdue rates and charges) are not paid to the council, or an arrangement satisfactory to the council is not entered into by the rateable person before the time fixed for the sale, the council will proceed with the sale”.