Low rates ‘not enough’

BAYSWATER charges the lowest average rates in the metropolitan area, but the local ratepayers’ association says the figures don’t tell the full story.

Peppermint Grove topped the rates list with a whopping average bill of $4161 (rubbish included) while Baysy was the cheapest at $1063.72, with a rates rise of 3.75 per cent.

The second cheapest council was Kwinana with an average bill of $1158.

Tony Green (below, right), president of the Bayswater City Residents’ Association, says while the city’s rates rise was “fairly moderate” the process in setting rates needed more transparency.

“If you look across all local governments in the metropolitan area, there are huge fluctuations in rates rises,” he says.

“To use CPI as a benchmark is wrong, we need to look at the local government price index, which is more indicative of what councils spend money on.”

Huge rates rises well over the rate of CPI — East Fremantle 6.25 per cent, Victoria Park 8 per cent — have drawn criticism from premier Colin Barnett who has backed investigating rates capping.

East Fremantle CEO Gary Clark says rate caps are politically attractive to voters, but damaging to communities in the long term.

“Many local governments are starting to see the consequences of keeping rates low,” he says.

“For instance, rate-capping is very popular, but they’ve had it in NSW for years, and their local infrastructure is some of the worst in the country.”

New WA local government association President Lynne Craigie also disapproved of rate capping.

“Establishing whether rate levels are reasonable requires a conversation between individual councils and their community,” she says.

“The outcome of rate capping in other jurisdictions has merely been the deterioration of infrastructure as funding shifted away from asset replacement and maintenance to underwrite operating costs.

“In Western Australia, rates represent approximately 42 per cent of council income.”

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

894 Match M24 20x7

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