Late notices means rate reprieve for some

ALMOST 3000 Shoalhaven ratepayers have received a three month extension on their rates following a problem with issuing the rates notices by contractor, Forms Express.

It was thought last Monday that because rate notices had not been delivered by the August 1 deadline that all Shoalhaven ratepayers would receive the November 30 payment extension.

Under the Local Government Act if a rates notice is not served by August 1 the instalment is payable by November 30 or 30 days after receiving the notice, whichever is later.

However, Shoalhaven City Council’s legal department checked the situation and found the term “served” means post-marked.

Council assured residents on Tuesday August 5, that Forms Express had mailed the rates notices by August 1.

On Friday morning council held a media conference to announce 8892 Shoalhaven rate notices had not been posted on time.

Shoalhaven City Council general manager, Russ Pigg said the late rates affected many people who owned multiple properties and would mean the deadline extension will apply to 2796 ratepayers.

“We are very disappointed this advice from Forms Express came after council twice made public statements advising there would be delays in rates notices but no payment extensions,” Mr Pigg said.

“At that time council had acted in good faith on information provided by Forms Express who had advised council that all notices had been posted on July 30,” Mr Pigg said. 

“On receiving this latest advice from Forms Express, council acted quickly to confirm the impact, meeting with a senior representative from the company to get a full understanding.

“We have also acted quickly to seek further legal advice on where council stands in relation to the impacts.”

Mr Pigg noted Forms Express accepted full responsibility for the late rate notices.

“From Council’s perspective we are doing everything we can to address this issue by contacting those affected and dealing with their enquiries,” Mr Pigg said.

Forms Express director Robert Reed apologised in writing to Shoalhaven ratepayers and council for the delay.

“This delay was caused by internal process issues within our organisation,” he said.

“Shoalhaven City Council in no way contributed to the delay.

“All data and instructions were received well in advance for the notices to be lodged in a timely manner.”

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