Big bill increases stuns Busselton pensioner

Peter Percival can't understand why his wastewater service charge bill has increased so significantly. Image Sophie Elliott.
Peter Percival can't understand why his wastewater service charge bill has increased so significantly. Image Sophie Elliott.

A Busselton pensioner has been left stunned after receiving his latest bill from the Water Corporation.

In his most recent bill for wastewater service charges, Peter Percival has been slugged an additional 22 per cent.

Mr Percival queried the charge with Water Corporation and was informed the charge was made up of a six per cent increase, approved by the state government in the most recent budget, and the property’s most recent Gross Rental Value.

Mr Percival said he was horrified by the bill and described it as absolute rubbish.

“How on Earth is the average pensioner going to deal with these sort of utility increases year after year,” he said.

“I wonder if anyone realises when the government approved that six per cent increase it was going to be on top of this.

“Has my property really gone up 16 per cent?”

Water Corporation South West regional manager John Janssen said service charges contributed to the costs of providing wastewater services for homes and businesses.

He said the Gross Rental Value calculation was used to determine individual wastewater charges.

“Successive State Governments over many years have considered that Gross Rental Value is a valid indicator of a household’s ability to pay, and have adopted a policy that Gross Rental Value-based wastewater charges are the most appropriate way of sharing the fixed costs of these essential services across the properties that benefit from them,” he said.

The Gross Rental Value is assessed by Landgate. All properties within a local government area are assessed at the same date. Rental evidence is collected at that date and used to determine the fair rental value for each property. 

A Landgate spokesperson said the average increase across the City of Busselton was 3.49 per cent.

Mr Percival’s bill stated his Gross Rental Value had increased by 4.9 per cent, which left him further baffled as to why his new bill had increase by 22 per cent. 

A Water Corporation spokesperson said they did not comment on an individual customer’s water account, however, they confirmed the bill in question was correctly calculated.

“Each year, rates in the dollar for each scheme are recalculated, based on the latest Gross Rental Value valuation data, and the government’s target price increase - all of which contribute to the rateable value of a property,” they said.

“Rates in the dollar are multiplied by the property’s Gross Rental Value to create a unique charge for that property.

“This is the same method local governments use to set charges for their rate payers.”