THE Launceston City Council should reduce its rates to make it more affordable for people struggling to cope with the cost of living, according to Tasmanians for Reform chairwoman Mary Massina.
Alderman will decide in a closed council meeting tomorrow whether or not to inform 37 property owners to pay their debt or risk the council selling their property.
The council has $1.28 million in outstanding rates and Local Government Association of Tasmania president Barry Easther said it was legal for a council to sell a property to recover debts.
``It is a move of last resort,'' he said.
``It is a provision within the local government act that councils can sell properties to reclaim rates once they have been outstanding for three years and that during that period of time all efforts to come to an arrangement have failed.''
However, the council's move has been frowned upon.
``If you continue to raise your rates year on year and your rates base is shrinking as well because there isn't that development going on, then there comes a point where ratepayers are being further penalised in tough economic times by effectively having their properties put up for sale,'' Ms Massina said.
``At an average across the state rate and fees and charges have been increasing some 8.4 per cent year on year for the last 11 years.
``Increasing rates year on year is not acceptable.''
Tasmanian Council of Social Services chief executive Tony Reidy said selling the property of someone in debt could increase the number of homeless people in dire straits.
``I would urge the council to very carefully consider each of the ratepayers in that situation on a case to case basis and support the idea of alternative repayment plans, rather than any foreclosure on a property,'' Mr Reidy said.
``Financial counselling and the sort of support that can be made available to people is a much better solution than putting them on the street.''