Three inhabited properties at Chudleigh and Mole Creek, including the Melita Honey Farm, are set to be sold for the recovery of $9332 in unpaid rates.
At its meeting on Tuesday the Meander Valley Council resolved to sell the land owned by members of the Beerepoot family.
Mayor Craig Perkins said the family refused to pay rates because they believe the land was not theirs but owned by “the Heavenly Father” and it was a matter between the council and God.
“Council has come to the conclusion that we have worked enough and tried long and hard enough to collect the unpaid rates so we made the decision to formally start proceedings to sell the properties,” he said.
A letter from the owners in February said “Council’s world view is that the ‘law of the land’ governs life and thus also provides progress, growth and security. On the other hand, we believe that our Heavenly Father is Sovereign and that He reigns today, thus we worship Him and Him alone so that His will is established on the earth … you are asking us to bow down to a false god which is something we cannot do.”
Councillors debated whether the issue should taken to a magistrate to allow one of the properties to be sold instead of all three which is currently prohibited. Cr Synfield said he did not support the sale because he did not belive the council had exhausted all its options.
“It is the people’s home address ... and they run a business … I don’t think we are at that point yet, the next step in the process that I think needs to be done is that we refer it to the court to see if they have a solution,” Cr Synfield said.
The council agenda said the matter had already been referred to Tasmania Police in 2012 when a car was seized to pay for outstanding rates.
Cr King said she believed the sale was appropriate to save ratepayers’ money.
“I believe that we have an obligation of equity to all our ratepayers and I believe all our other ratepayers are subsidising the Beerepoot family and their business,” she said.
Cr Perkins said it had not been not an easy decision, with the vote split five to four.
“Of course the ratepayers could still turn up tomorrow and write a cheque for their rates but it appears that they have come to a fundamental view that they don’t have to pay rates,” he said.
The issue of who would receive the excess proceeds of the sale, if the property was not owned by the Beerepoot family but by God, was unclear.