Unpaid rates bill adding up
CITY of Melville ratepayers owed the council more than $4 million in unpaid bills at the end of the 2017-18 financial year.
A special investigation by Community News reporters showed overdue rates bills varied from council to council.
City of Swan ratepayers were the worst at paying off their bills in the previous financial year, with almost $10 million owed at June 30, 2018.
Wanneroo came in second with $8,745,555, just over 3 per cent of the total rates levied.
Rockingham ($5,831, 119), Gosnells ($4,680,514) and Stirling ($4,674,278) also had totals owed to them over the $4 million mark.
City acting chief executive Marten Tieleman said the figure was 6.12 per cent of rates generated for the 2017-18 financial year and compared with about $4.81 million at June 30, 2017.
“The City’s collection rate in percentage terms has remained fairly constant for many years and it is important to note the outstanding amount includes accounts that ratepayers may pay off by agreement over a number of years; for example, for underground power accounts,” he said.
“While the City does not consider these accounts to be in arrears, for reporting purposes they are included in the outstanding rates balance in the City’s annual financial statements.
“The City aims wherever possible to assist and support Melville ratepayers who may be experiencing financial difficulties.
“Rather than resort to legal actions, which may see an outstanding balance reduced more quickly, the City’s preference is to work with those ratepayers wherever possible to assist them to pay off their outstanding amounts over a period of time.”
Under the Local Government Act 1995, a council is able to take possession of a property if rates are left unpaid for three or more years.