YENDA flood victims slammed with hefty water and sewage bills are devastated council has refused to allow any concessions even though many are still unable to live in their homes.
Despite council general manager Brett Stonestreet saying he would “look into” waiving excess water charges at the flood information meetings held during the disaster, Yenda residents have been slugged with expensive bills for services that many cannot use.
Former West Avenue resident Lauren Preuss, who has been forced to relocate to Griffith until her home is repaired, was stunned to find a $230 sewage charge on her latest water bill dated March 1 to June 30.
Mrs Preuss has not been able to live in her home since she and her family were evacuated on March 5 and has been told it could take up to a year for repairs to be completed.
However, she is still expected to pay water and sewage access costs for the house she cannot live in.
“It’s definitely unfair, council should give us a break,” Mrs Preuss said.
“They could at least give us a discount –why should we pay when we’re not even living there?
“Everyone has been charged whether they’re in or out and it seems like a waste of money for us to spend for something we’re not even using.”
Railway Avenue resident Cathleen Mills, who is living with her two children in a caravan and modified garden shed in her backyard, said she was under the impression she would not be charged for the water used in the flood clean-up.
Ms Mills recently received her water and sewage bill and was shocked to find it higher than usual.
“We all had to use extra water to clean things down after the flood and we have been charged extra for that water consumption,” Ms Mills said.
“It’s not right, it wasn’t my choice to use that water – I didn’t choose for this to happen.”
While she expected to have to pay a portion of her bill, Ms Mills said she would have appreciated some form of concession and she believed people who could not live in their homes should not have to pay at all.
She believed people who had been forced to relocate should not have to pay rates, either.
“Everyone’s electricity bills are going to go up because they’re trying to keep warm,” she said.
“That money they have to spend could be another couple of weeks’ worth of groceries.”
In a statement to The Area News, Mr Stonestreet acknowledged a number of ratepayers had contacted him expressing difficulty in meeting their water and rate account commitments.
He encouraged those people to apply for assistance through council’s financial hardship policy but did not guarantee their applications would be successful.
“Council has a policy to enable ratepayers or other debtors who are experiencing difficulty in paying their rates and/or annual charges for reasons of financial hardship,” Mr Stonestreet said.
“Council is sympathetic to ratepayers and other debtors who are experiencing genuine hardship.”
He said successful applicants could pay off rates by instalments rather than in full by the due date without incurring penalty interest.