Budget ‘for the future’

VINCENT council has ushered in its 2019/20 budget with an average residential rate increase of 2.7 per cent.

Mayor Emma Cole said it wasn’t a showy or flashy budget, but was about “future thinking” to deliver key community initiatives, such as the roll-out of its three-bin FOGO system. It’s due to start next financial year but the council is paying down $500,000 of the $1.3 million bill this year to smooth out the cost (which makes up a hefty 1.4 per cent of the rate rise).

Leederville resident John Siamos wrote to the council complaining that rate increases should be in line with the Perth inflation rate and wage growth rate, “as the city has already charged well over that benchmark for the past three years”.

Council’s moneyfolk replied that standard measures of inflation don’t translate well to local government. Instead of the CPI’s “basket of groceries” measure, they refer to the “Local Government Cost Index” which takes into account the costs of road construction, machinery maintenance, street lighting and all the other council stuff. That’s projected to be 1.8 per cent in 2019/20.

FOGO

Ms Cole noted the base rates increase (sans FOGO) is below that index.

The state government wants all councils to switch to FOGO by 2025, so Vincent council’s reasoning is that getting in early will bring them savings sooner because it’s far cheaper per tonne to process FOGO into mulch, compared to the current landfill system.

City staff had originally drafted a 2.9 per cent increase, but Josh Topelberg moved to drop plans for a $60,000 padding of the council’s cash reserves to ease ratepayers’ bills.

The 2.9 per cent made it into the West Australian’s report on council rates, with a pic of Ms Cole beside an all-cap heading “2.9% INCREASE” which noted it was the third-biggest in the city. The revised figure would have put Vincent in sixth place.

In response, Vincent issued a release noting its average residential rate was $1501.54, compared to neighbouring councils which averaged $1670.96.

by DAVID BELL

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