Second City of Melville resident claims to have been charged for underground power despite being connected already

Stock image.
Stock image.

A SECOND City of Melville resident has raised concerns about the roll out of underground power after being forced to contribute more than $3500 despite owning a house already connected to the infrastructure.

Walter Czerkasow bought his Rome Road home in the early 1990s and paid to have underground power installed at the premises when a neighbour purchased a section of his land with plans to subdivide in 2008.

“The City of Melville would only let her subdivide on the condition that underground power be installed at both our properties and the new subdivision, which we agreed to,” he said.

Nearly a decade later in 2015, with his home on the market, Mr Czerkasow was shocked to see a charge for the installation of underground power included in his rates notice as part of the Melville South project area.

“My wife rang up the City and explained we already had underground power and also that our house was for sale and besides offering a small rebate on the original bill their response basically amounted to ‘bad luck,’” he said.

“Significantly, there had been no attempt at actually carrying out the work at that point and although they said it would be complete by the end of 2015 it still has not been done.

“Consumer protection laws prevent home sellers from passing on these kinds of costs to purchasers so when we managed to sell a few months later we had no choice but to pay the bill.”

Mr Czerkasow drives through the suburb of Melville regularly to visit his mother and said overhead power poles were still visible around his old property.

City of Melville chief executive Shayne Silcox confirmed work in the area was only slated for completion in April, nearly two years after homeowners in the Melville South project area were charged.

“Mr Czerkasow was charged the network fee of $3,400 in 2015-16 and $326.05 in 2016-17,” Dr Silcox said.

“He was never charged the connection fee as he had the connection installed as part of his subdivision approval.

“In other words, the private work done as part of the subdivision exempted Mr Czerkasow from the connection fee, however did not exempt him from the network charge – for the purchase and placement of transfers, replacement of light poles and undergrounding of wires – which of course he did not do as part of his subdivision work.”