Aged hit by rates bungle

By ADRIAN MILLER

amiller@dailyexaminer.com.au

HUNDREDS of pensioners throughout the Clarence Valley will have to re-apply for a rates reduction after the Clarence Valley Council issued incorrect notices.

The problems were not limited to the pensioner rates concession, with many notices sent to wrong addresses, and owners of properties which usually receive a postponement sent a rates bill.

Council general manager Stuart McPherson said approximately 600 pensioners had been affected by the error, which appeared to have been caused by a technical glitch.

"The reason is an apparent mismatch between Centrelink and the council's files," he said.

"The Centrelink information didn't completely match our information and as a consequence there are several hundred ratepayers in the pensioner entitlement category that haven't automatically received their rebate entitlement."

Mr McPherson said pensioners would not miss out on their rebate ? worth up to $250 ? they would just have to re-apply for it.

"There is no suggestion they won't be entitled to the rebate and they certainly shouldn't assume that they are being denied their rebate," he said. One pensioner yesterday said they were happy with council's reaction to the problem, but it was an extra hassle and burden for pensioners to go through.

Mr McPherson said council had identified most properties affected by the rate postponement error, and would issue amended notices.

"We believe we've identified all of those properties and we've issued, or are shortly to issue, amending rate notices to provide that deduction from the rate due," he said. "We won't be penalising anyone as a consequence of what appears to be our error, but obviously it's an embarrassment to us and we're keen to work with ratepayers to ensure the problem's speedily fixed."



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