Wyndham ratepayer owes $303,000 out of $10m sought by council

One Wyndham property owner owes the council more than $303,000 in back rates as part of a community deficit of almost $10 million.

Latest figures from the council show more than 9000 properties were in the red on their rates in the 2013-14 financial year.

“There were 9372 properties with an outstanding balance of $5 or more as at June 30,” the council’s acting chief executive, Kelly Grigsby, said.

“This equates to $9,869,467.88 in rates, charges and interest, or 6.41 per cent of the total amount of rates levied. The figure does not include the fire services levy.”

The council’s sustainable development director, Dean Rochfort, said one ratepayer owed $303,818.85, including penalty interest.

“The statistics also show the top 10 properties are responsible for $1,242,118 out of that $9,869,467 in outstanding rates, charges and interest.”

Community lawyer Michael Mitchell told Star Weekly residents were risking much more than late fines if they did not pay their rates.

“Ultimately your house and property could be seized if you don’t pay your rates,” Mr Mitchell said.

“The council is very understanding and if people are genuinely struggling to pay their rates then it will help them out by setting them up with a payment plan.

“But some people think it’s like not paying a library fine and they think it’ll just go away.

“If you owe the council more than $300,000, it’s going to get its money.” Mr Mitchell said the amount of money owed in rates was indicative of a wider problem in Wyndham.

“This is worrying because it shows that more than 9000 people couldn’t pay their rates for whatever reason,” he said.

“It shows people are living beyond their means and that the gap between rich and poor is getting wider.”

The council is also owed $416,034 from 2082 unpaid fines, mainly for parking offences.