Everyone likes to paint Wagga City Council as the bad guys but they are really just doing their jobs.
We often spruik about the lack of funding they have given to certain projects or community groups but people often forget that they are owed money too.
The perks and excitement of owning your own home often temporarily dulls the pain of having to pay bills and rates.
Homeowners have a duty and that is to pay rates, as much as we might like to argue about them, especially how expensive they can be.
But what if residents just decided they didn’t want to pay them, or they couldn’t afford them?
Council is now owed more than $4.5 million on unpaid rates from 4617 properties in its Local Government Area.
Our major question is how?
How do you expect to buy a house and then have the gumption not to pay what you owe?
We understand that circumstances arise where unexpected financial hardship hits unexpectedly.
People buy a home with all their ducks in a row, prepared and budgeted to pay the costs and illness, unemployment or relationship break-ups happen.
But one property alone has racked up a debt of almost $22,000.
That’s years of not paying rates.
How are they allowed to get away with this?
Obviously, they’re not, because the property is about to be sold at auction to try and get some of that money back.
So who’s fault is that – the homeowners or council’s for allowing it to continue so long?
Through consultation with the owners, an agreement was reached for council to sell off the properties if the rates couldn’t be paid.
And why not?
It sends a clear message by council that they will not tolerate this sort of lack of care and homeowners should not be able to keep property they can’t afford.
Owners get a balance of the sale, after the owed rates are taken out of it, so there’s a chance for them to get back on their feet again.
Judging from the addresses, the properties are mostly in respectable streets in Wagga or rural parcels of land on the outskirts – a nice pickup for investors or first-time buyers.
These properties becoming available again is a nice injection into the local real estate market.