Wodonga’s rates ‘out of control’

Ron and Merrilyne Humphrey with their son, Michael. Wodonga Council has lifted their rates because of the increased home valuation after they built an extension onto their house for Michael. Picture: DAVID THORPE

Ron and Merrilyne Humphrey with their son, Michael. Wodonga Council has lifted their rates because of the increased home valuation after they built an extension onto their house for Michael. Picture: DAVID THORPE

A RETIRED Wodonga couple are dismayed over a sharp rates rise after they extended their house to cater for their disabled son.

Ron and Merrilyne Humphrey have watched their annual rates bill jump from about $2240 in 2012 to the current annual payment of about $3500.

“I busted my gut to build this for my son, and then Wodonga Council gives you a kick in the guts for doing it,” Mr Humphrey said.

“They just said this is the new rate, it’s all cut and dried and nothing of the heart comes into it — it’s just all figures.”

In a letter to the council, Mr Humphrey said the rates he paid “did not compare” with neighbouring properties in Huon Creek Road.

“My wife and I are both elderly and we have paid for this accommodation without any assistance from any government source,” he said.

“We are not a burden on any charity and we wish to care for our son for as long as we live, so would ask for a reduction to our rates that would be in line with what we paid when we first came here in 2010, plus any normal rates.”

The Humphreys had been living on the Wodonga-Yackandandah Road until mid-2000.

They moved into town so they could better source services from the council for their son, Michael, who has an obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia although he is “a very mild person with a good nature”.

Mr Humphrey said Michael needed to live with his parents to access their constant support.

“The big concern of ours as we get older is wondering what the future will be,” he said.

“We’ve got a daughter who is so caring and she will see to all that.

“She’s exceptional, but we don’t know what’s around the corner.”

Mr Humphrey — a former builder who owned Wodonga’s Wunderbar Aluminium Products business for more than 30 years — said they bought their home in 2010 for $540,000 and then completed extensions costing $130,000 two years ago.

Business services director Trevor Ierino said the council could not discuss an individual’s rates information.

But in a letter sent to the Humphreys, the council said their property had increased in value from $397,000 in 2011-12 to a 2013-14 figure of $558,000.

The council said the 2014-15 valuation would come through later this year and the Humphreys were welcome to object.

Mr Ierino said rates were calculated on a property’s capital improved value.

“The council does have a variety of payment options available to residents, including instalment plans,” he said.

“Ratepayers can apply for a waiver or deferral or rates, charges and any penalty interest in times of financial hardship.”

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