Janet Dunstan told councillors yesterday she is losing her hair over the stress caused by her huge rates bill.
Janet Dunstan told councillors yesterday she is losing her hair over the stress caused by her huge rates bill. TONI McRAE

Urangan woman in rates hell

THE HAIRDRESSER partner of Tony Tindall, a popular Hervey Bay trawler man who drowned in Cyclone Hamish last year, fought back tears yesterday as she pleaded with the council to help her survive in her home business.

“In January 2009, I bought my Urangan three-bedroom home and attached business premises that had been a milk bar for about 17 years,” Janet Dunstan said.

“I only bought it because the real estate agent gave me a document that described it as a ‘residential low density/freehold business’ and when I paid the portion of the rates owing I was told then it was a commercial property.”

But Janet’s “golden opportunity” of operating a small hair and beauty home salon turned into a nightmare when in February the council told her she couldn’t run a business unless she made a formal application.

“I submitted that on March 6, 2009, and three days later found out Tony had drowned. I withdrew the application and was charged $310 by the council for their having to return my unopened envelope and remainder of my $2300 cheque, after they’d had it for only three days.”

In May Janet lodged her application again and after paying a great deal of money in fees she opened her salon in September last year.

But then a simple council inspection suddenly escalated into a letter in June saying a council records audit showed she hadn’t been rated correctly.

“Residential” should be “Non Residential/Other”.

And domestic water charges should take on an extra commercial charge, while domestic sewerage should have a commercial sewerage charge added on.

Janet’s fire levy charge also changed and her rubbish bins and charges soared.

“The result is it’s cost me more than $6000 just to get my doors open and now I’m facing a $5905.23 rates bill,” she said.

“I haven’t got the money. My hair is falling out from stress, I am suffering from depression and I have chronic fatigue. I need to lease or sell the property and have a break.”

Janet asked the council to reinstate her property as commercial rather than a home business, because she is being charged as a commercial business and she can’t operate “a full on business” on the premises because “there are so many restrictions” on her.

Councillor Belinda McNeven asked that councillors receive a full briefing on Janet’s case.

“I’m feeling a little more positive,” Janet said.



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