Resident receives Council bill – from 2006

Craig Caldwell reacts to his not-a-scam-but-a-scam bill from Council for 2006 kerb and guttering

When a Blackwall resident received a letter supposedly from Central Coast Council for $393.54 for an overdue bill dated from 2015, he thought it was a scam.

Craig Caldwell rang Council to alert them to what was being perpetrated in their name but no, the Council rang him back and explained it was really a Council bill for work done in 2006 – before he even owned the house.

It was for kerb and guttering done way back then, when the area was still Gosford City Council.

Caldwell was – and still is – flabbergasted.

“It’s not a scam – but it is a scam, a council scam,” he said.

His neighbour has received the same sort of letter but their amount is almost three times Caldwell’s bill.

They can’t figure out why.

Since Caldwell has spoken of his plight on social media, other people have come forward with similar bills sent to Wamberal and Kincumber.

Caldwell said a council staffer said there were lots of these bills being sent out.

He got the impression the new amalgamated computer system has uncovered old bills from decades ago that were never sent out.

“The bill doesn’t even explain what the matter is about; it simply states it is from 2015 and is overdue, there is no accompanying explanation,” he said.

But even that doesn’t make sense, if the work was done in 2006.

“I find this absolutely outrageous that Central Coast Council is making a cash grab using some defunct account from 2006 to bolster their coffers,” he said.

“It’s a total disgrace that they are now trying to activate discontinued accounts to take back some of their mismanagement.”

Caldwell has contacted A Current Affair and hopes the matter will make prime time television.

He said Council told him an explanatory letter was on its way.

“I should get that by 2035,” he said.

Central Coast Council’s media unit cautioned CCN to make sure our reporting of this matter was factually correct and issued the following statement: “In January 2022, Central Coast Council issued debtor statements to a small portion (fewer than 3 per cent) of its customers to advise of outstanding current and historical charges.

“In December 2021, Council upgraded its property and rating systems for customers across the Coast, installing a new and improved system which provides a central location for all rates payments, property applications and certificate requests.

“The upgrade finished ahead of schedule and created a more convenient, streamlined experience for our residents and ratepayers.

“During this upgrade, various current and historical outstanding charges were identified as two systems (previously Wyong and Gosford) became one.

“All statements issued during January 2022 are correct and valid.

“The new property and rating system includes an updated template for debtor statements which displays the information in a modestly updated design.

“Council recognises this design change was not expressly advised to customers and apologises for causing any confusion on the legitimacy of these debtor statements.

“Council intends to contact customers who received a debtor statement to ensure they are aware that the outstanding amount owing is correct and can ask any questions they may have.

“Council thanks the community members who raised their concerns about the debtor statements with Council, and for their vigilance on this matter.

“For any questions relating to these Council-issued statements, residents and ratepayers are encouraged to contact Council via the 24/7 online Customer Service Centre or by calling 1300 463 954.”

Merilyn Vale

2 Comments on "Resident receives Council bill – from 2006"

  1. Tony Sansom OAM | January 27, 2022 at 9:59 am |

    The new CEO should step in immediately and write off these old accounts going back 15 years. It was an old policy of Gosford City Council to seek a contribution of the total cost of providing a footpath and K&G in front of a residential property. However when I was on Council, we always had to authority to write off if any issues or hardship was raised. Time for a community based Administrator to be appointed. I am available.

  2. Ross Fleming (former Deputy General Manager - Manly Council) | January 28, 2022 at 6:27 pm |

    The below is a copy of my reply post on the Central Coast Council Watch Facebook on this matter:
    Part 13 of the Roads Act 1993 (NSW) Clause 217 does allow a Council to seek a contribution from the adjoining land owner to recover the cost of paving, kerbing and guttering and footways:
    (1) The owner of land adjoining a public road is liable to contribute to the cost incurred by a roads authority in constructing or paving any kerb, gutter or footway along the side of the public road adjacent to the land.
    (2) The amount of the contribution is to be such amount (not more than half of the cost) as the roads authority may determine.
    (3) The owner of land the subject of such a determination becomes liable to pay the amount determined on receiving notice of that amount.
    Clause 219 further provides for Recovery of costs incurred:
    (1) A roads authority that gives notice of a determination under this Division to the owner of any land is required, on application by that person, to give the person particulars of the work to which the determination relates and of the costs incurred by the roads authority in carrying out that work.
    (2) In any proceedings for the recovery of an amount determined under this Division, the costs incurred by the roads authority in carrying out the work to which the determination relates may not be called into question unless the owner of the land has given reasonable written notice to the roads authority of the owner’s intention to do so.
    (3) The amount of any unpaid judgment under this Division may, if the roads authority is a council, be recovered as if it were an unpaid rate under the Local Government Act 1993.
    HOWEVER, as correctly stated in previous posts, the Limitation Act 1969 (NSW) places time limits on the rights of a creditor to bring an action for the recovery of debts.
    In most cases a creditor or a debt collector must recover the debt, or commence court action to recover the debt, within 6 years of:
    • the date on which the debt first arose or
    • the date you last made a payment or
    • the date you acknowledged the debt in writing
    The 6 years runs from whichever event from the above list occurs last.
    If the creditor does not commence court action within the six years, you will have a complete defence to the debt. There is nothing to prevent the creditor commencing court action, it is up to you to raise the Limitation Act defence, if it applies.
    PLEASE NOTE that Central Coast Council no longer requires that residents contribute to the cost of kerb and gutter construction in front of their properties.

    Hopefully these bills seeking to recover a contribution to kerb & guttering works carried out in 2006 was an administrative error – accordingly they possibly should be withdrawn by Council.
    I have worked in and provided consulting services to Councils in NSW for over 42 years at senior management level (including Wyong Council). I am also a resident of the Central Coast and a ratepayer, so whilst I don’t like seeing Council losing revenue, in this instance they may have to write the debts off.
    If Council has been carrying these Debtor balances in the Financial Accounts since 2006, they would be showing as an Accounts Receivable Asset, and hopefully there has been a provision made for Doubtful Debts in case they have to be written off.

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