Man's $8,000 shock over council bin charge: 'Just not right'

The NSW couple have encouraged others to double check their council rates notices before its too late.

A man has warned others to check their rates extra carefully, after being charged double in garbage waste disposal for a whopping 12 years.

Geoff and Kim Oppert found themselves in the tricky situation when realising Kiama Municipal Council were billing them for two red bins rather than one.

"Over 12 years we paid $16,000 in garbage waste disposal and it really should have been half that," the NSW resident told A Current Affair.

A photo of Geoff and Kim Oppert who live south of Sydney in the Kiama Council LGA.
A NSW couple living south of Sydney were incorrectly charged by Kiama Council for 12 years, costing them $16,000 in rates. Source: A Current Affair

"Our rate notice doesn't clearly say how many bins we have. It's bureaucratic speak no one could understand."

Why were they charged for two bins?

Originally owning one large red bin, the couple decided to downsize to a smaller one when their daughter moved out. However their council did not reflect that change in the annual rates and charges notice, charging them $16,610.30 for two large bins instead of $8,305.15, according to documents obtained by A Current Affair.

When being pulled up about it, the couple were told it was their mistake in part.

A photo of red and yellow bins.
The couple downsized to one small red bin when their daughter moved out, however that was not accurately reflected in the council rates notice. Source: Source: Getty, file.

"Like any bill or bank statement, the onus is on the customer to check their documentation and notify the issuing authority of any discrepancies," a Kiama Municipal Council said in a statement to Yahoo News Australia.

"We are sorry that this regrettable situation has arisen and that the error in this customer’s bin service was not picked up earlier.

"When this matter was brought to our attention, Kiama Council acted quickly to rectify the situation, in accordance with the law."

NSW couple only refunded for two years

Instead of being refunded for the whole 12 years, Mr and Mrs Oppert were only awarded $1,624.33 thanks to the Recovery of Imposts Tax Act 1963, which applies to charges that go back more than a year.

"We refunded the amounts of $805.72 for 2021-22 and $818.61 for 2022-23," the council spokesperson said.

A photo of a section of the Recovery of Imposts Tax Act 1963 imposed on the couple.
The Recovery of Imposts Tax Act 1963 imposed by the Office of Local Government meant the couple could only get back two years worth of bin rates. Source: Kiama Council

Mrs Oppert thought the situation was "so unfair and just not right," and while there's nothing further the couple can do, they hoped their story would encourage others to double check their council notices so they aren't dealt with the same fate.

"Look at your rates notice and check you're paying for just one bin," Mr Oppert told the publication.

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