Council moves to recover unpaid rates

Central Coast Rates Rise

Central Coast Council has moved to recover more than $1.7 million in unpaid rates and charges.

Council has exhausted all other avenues to recover these rates available under the Local Government Act and will now move to sell 123 properties by public auction.

Council Administrator Rik Hart said the sales were the option of last resort.

“We understand that some members of our community are suffering from genuine hardship, and for those behind on rates in that circumstance our teams have worked with them to plan repayments,” Mr Hart said.

“However, more than half of the properties targeted in this sale have outstanding rates for more than five years, and all other attempts for Council to address this has failed.

“It also includes 50 vacant properties that are more than one year in arrears and have not provided an application for genuine hardship or entered into an arrangement that meets Council guidelines for payment. 

“In such a dire financial situation, we can no longer expect other ratepayers to subsidise these unpaid properties.”

Council said it would not proceed with the sale of any land owned by pensioners but it noted that pensioner land meeting the criteria for sale for rates equal the value of $2,249,609.

Council said collections for unpaid rates follow two processes. Internal collections for unpaid rates start at 15 days in arrears for amounts over $10. 

Unpaid rates balances that exceed $2,000, inclusive of both water and rates charges, are outsourced to a legal services provider for recovery at two or more quarters in arrears (about  6-7 months overdue). 

There are several strategies that are used by the legal service provider to settle arrears with rate payers with starts with a contact letter and moves on to a notice of legal action and many steps later it may end with a recommendation for sale.

Council requires that arrangements to pay must not exceed nine months, inclusive of new bills, unless supported by an application for genuine hardship.

Merilyn Vale. Verified source; Central Coast Council Meeting Highlights, May 25, 2021