Western suburbs councils holding hundreds of thousands in verge deposits

SOME western suburbs councils are holding money that home builders paid as deposits to cover any damage to verges and crossings during construction.

“The Town of Cottesloe currently has a balance of approximately $695,000; approximately $613,000 of this has been held for 24 months,” a council spokeswoman said.

Last week, Community Newspaper Group revealed the City of Melville had accumulated $4.9 million in unclaimed kerb security deposits, of which $2.4 million had been held for more than two years.

The City’s $1900 deposits are held for construction projects worth more than $20,000, including swimming pools and renovations.

Chief executive Shayne Silcox said home builders were told how the deposit would be returned, and that it was “unfeasible” to monitor them all and interest on the $4.9 million was only used to pay for inspections.

Melville ratepayers criticised their council for potentially earning interest on the deposits and not informing them that the money was being retained, with many forgetting to get the money back after busy and stressful home builds.

Cottesloe charges $1500 infrastructure bonds and its spokeswoman said residents were “prompted” to apply for a refund when their project was finished.

“Once the Town receives a notice of completion for building works, a pre-completed infrastructure bond refund form is sent to them,” she said.

Peppermint Grove Council charges a $1000 footpath and kerb security bond and currently has $101,000, of which about 20 per cent has been held for more than two years.

“This is due to the longer building times, with some of the larger projects in the Shire taking three to five years to complete,” corporate services manager Paul Rawlings said.

Mr Rawlings said the council inspected the verge to refund the bond after a certificate of completion from any builder.

“We also carryout regular audits of the bonds held in the trust account every 12 months and seek to refund the money if its due to the landowner or the builder,’ he said.