Description:Keith Owen has had a terrible time with the council, including being charged rates for his wheelie bins even though the house was inundated from the floods.
Description:Keith Owen has had a terrible time with the council, including being charged rates for his wheelie bins even though the house was inundated from the floods. Cordell Richardson

Seven years and $4k wasted on levy

IT WASN'T until years after the point Goodna man Keith Owen discovered he was still paying for rates services on his flooded property.

Mr Owen couldn't live at his Prokuda Close house for almost seven years after it was inundated in the 2011 floods, but he kept paying his rates, including a $90 a quarter bin levy.

"There was a bit of clean-up after the floods and I had a bit of difficulty with rate back then, you rob Peter to pay Paul as you go on in life," he said.

Mr Owen was contacted by a collections agency on behalf of council because of the overdue rates.

During this same period Mr Owen said council were offering help and financial advice for those effected by the floods but he never received any.

"I said you have to cut us a bit of slack, I'm still struggling as a result of the floods, the house is totally destroyed, it was totally gutted, no one could live there it was abandoned," he said.

"Some of the support they said they would provide would be to cut you a bit of slack with rates."

Mr Owen claims council was aware of the continued charges despite the lack of service at his property.

Now he's trying to claw back some of the money he's owed over the seven year period. He has sent two letters of demand to the council to recoup almost $4000.

"The bin service is about $90 a quarter, I just extrapolated that retrospectively and applied interest 11 per cent compounding per month," he said.

Mr Owen said the issue was the council had been transparent with information, only discovering he was owed money by the council after liaising with another debt collector.

"I put in an application to have that money refunded and I haven't received a response from them," he said.

The letters of demand for repayment were dated earlier this month and he claims he still has not received a response. Mr Owen wants the particulars of his rates and charges as well, so he can determine if what he has been charged over the years is correct.

"If you're going to charge someone something you need to tell them what it is," he said.

He's sceptical of all charges now, given the amount of money he's laid out in good faith, all while hitting him in the hip pocket.

"They don't have any hardship provisions that are published, how do you negotiate with council or raise financial hardship with them," Mr Owen said.

"Given the socio-economic the profile in this area and they have the some of the highest rates in Australia.

"Council hasn't cut me any slack whatsoever so their promises around helping people out were empty promises."

Now Mr Owen wonders how many other people are similarly affected.

The council could not comment further on Mr Owen's case due to legalities.

"As this matter is confidential, council cannot comment," a spokesperson said.



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