Council quizzed over power plan

A PLAN to get underground power for Vincent residents has been dismissed by council staff as unaffordable, even though it wouldn’t draw on their current coffers.

The current system sees homeowners presented with a chunky bill ($8000 or more per house) and can be a big deterrent, killing projects in the community consultation stage.

Former councillor Dudley Maier put up a motion at Vincent’s last electors’ meeting suggesting the council look at Subiaco’s approach of collectively paying for underground power, taking out loans to get things rolling then increasing the rates a small amount to split the bill over many years. 

He says the increase in property values, more trees, more birds and more shades makes the rates rise more palatable.  

Residents who’d already paid for underground power would be exempted by area from having to pay the rate rise.

Popular

The Subiaco model was deemed a hit when Vincent council staff reviewed it back in 2008: “Politically it is very popular with the Council and we have had relatively few complaints from the community about this method.  It is also very simple to administer,” a dusty old report states.

But Vincent staff have suggested councillors don’t pursue Mr Maier’s motion, saying the city “is is not in a financial position to be able to fund an underground power proposal at this time”. 

Mr Maier doesn’t think they understood his question, or the Subiaco model. He says he just wanted them to look at Subiaco’s homework, prepare a long-term financial model and ask the community what they thought of it. 

Cr Josh Topelberg quizzed staff on it at the March 10 briefing.

“My understanding of the request was that it was to look at a funding model that didn’t require the city to use its financial position, and the response is we’re not in a financial position,” Cr Topelberg said.

He said Mr Maier had made it clear “that’s not the question that was asked”.

Cr Topelberg requested staff show what work they’ve done so far looking into the idea and include that in the report for the March 17 council meeting, where councillors decide whether to pursue it any further.

by DAVID BELL

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