Ignoring bills and mounting household financial stress should not be a first choice, says financial counsellor Margaret Clements from the CQ Financial Counselling Service.
With 10 per cent of Central Highlands’ rate payments still outstanding, Ms Clements reminded residents that acting early was the most effective solution to manage any debt.
‘It’s no good putting your head in the sand and pretending it’s not happening,’ she said.
‘Every home owner knows they have a rates bill, just like our electricity or registrations. We know they’re coming up but we tend not to put the money away.’
Ms Clements said big life events, such as illness, loss of employment or the breakdown of a relationship, were the main catalysts for financial stress.
‘We understand it can happen to anyone, but what we do ask is please don’t leave it to get worse and worse,’ she said.
‘Come see us and we can look at your options in an objective, non-judgemental environment.’
Mayor Cr Kerry Hayes said, ‘There’s always a solution to explore and council offers a range of options for rates payments’.
‘Certainly there’ll be a percentage of people that have simply forgotten to pay their bills—we’re all guilty of that from time to time.
‘The overwhelming majority of ratepayers understand the importance of budgeting for their rates payments along with their other utilities and realise that as a major household expense you cannot afford to get into arrears.’
Ms Clements said the CQ Financial Counselling Service offered free counselling for anyone wanting to address their financial situation.
‘We are a non-means tested, free service based in Rockhampton, but we also service the Blackwater and Emerald area regularly,’ she said.
‘We can go through people’s budgets, their income and expenditure, and help them work out their priorities. A lot of people don’t know where to go or what hardship provisions are out there, so we’re here to help.’
The CQ Financial Counselling Service will be at the Emerald Neighbourhood Centre this Thursday and Friday, 11 and 12 May 2017. To make an appointment, call their office on 4928 1844.