Cities avoid repossession as $8m in rates unpaid
The Cities of Rockingham and Kwinana have more than $8 million owed to them in unpaid rates, and although other metropolitan councils have taken moves to repossess homes to recover overdue rates, the two local governments say they have not taken this action.
In the City of Rockingham, rates owed over the 2017/2018 financial year totalled $5,383,119.
Mayor Barry Sammels said the City would take a considered approach to the collection of rates, which included debt collection procedures, to assist ratepayers in meeting their financial obligations.
The City implemented new debt recovery procedures about three years ago, designed to target outstanding rates over a number of years, the impact of which is reflected in the rise of outstanding rates. Mr Sammels said the City had not taken action to repossess homes.
“Debt collectors are only used as a last resort once all other reasonable methods have been used to ensure funds are paid,” he said.
“Ratepayers are notified at least four times of their rates owing prior to debt collector involvement. Ratepayers under significant financial duress are actively encouraged to contact the City so alternative payment arrangements can be agreed to.” In the financial year ending June 2018, outstanding rates in the City of Kwinana totalled $3,597,121, nearly $1 million more than the previous year.
City of Kwinana chief executive Joanne Abbiss said the City had a debt collection policy which included notifying the ratepayer of the outstanding rates and offering several affordable payment options.
“The City engages debt collectors to assist in the collection of unpaid rates, however the City has not repossessed any homes,” she said.
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