Waimate council owed $60,000 by ratepayers

AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 21/11/2012

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Waimate District Council is chasing an increasing number of ratepayers who are in arrears.

Figures show 89 ratepayers owe a total of $60,000 for the 2011-12 rating year - equivalent to 3 per cent of total rates due.

That figure has jumped from $31,430 owed by 53 ratepayers for 2010-11 period.

Council property manager Sue Kelly said part of the increase could be attributable to a lack of focus on debt collection during a staff changeover at the council.

"However, most of the prior-year debt relates to particular ratepayers who routinely do not pay rates until such time as final action is taken on recovery."

Those ratepayers incur a 10 per cent penalty to each instalment or any portion of it that has not been paid on or before the due date.

Ms Kelly said staff were working through various processes to avoid arrears accumulating.

That includes working out payment schedules, setting up automatic payments, direct debits and rates rebates.

The purpose of the rebate scheme is to provide subsidies to low-income homeowners on their rates.

Eligibility criteria must be met in order to qualify for the rebate scheme.

Ms Kelly said there had been an increase in direct debit services since the council introduced monthly and quarterly payments.

No properties had been seized as a result of rates arrears.

"We do have a core of ratepayers who wait until we threaten them with mortgagee sales.

"It's just unfortunate that it looks like that at this time of the year and it's just a matter of working through that process."

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- The Timaru Herald

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