PERTH ratepayers will enjoy a zero per cent rate increase this year, while lord mayor Basil Zempilas successfully moved to freeze parking fees.
Councillors voted through the budget on July 13, endorsing a staff report that noted the city was being hit by a few “abnormal expenses” this year.
Along with the Perth Parking Levy going up by 1.75 per cent per bay, $8 million is needed to pay for the state government’s 2018-2020 Power Inquiry.
But the admin has still been able to deliver the rate freeze due to savings, starting when the inquiry-era commissioners tightened the purse strings and slimmed down staff numbers.
Speaking at the special budget meeting on July 13, Mr Zempilas said the rates and fee freeze came despite the state government increasing the council’s costs.
“In deciding not to increase rates for the 2021-22 financial year the City of Perth has sent a message to its 21,000 ratepayers that we understand the impact Covid-19 has had on your lives and businesses in the last 18 months, and we understand that many people have been impacted financially,” Mr Zempilas said.
“In looking out for the best interests of our ratepayers the City of Perth has an obligation to ensure our city remains active, vibrant and welcoming.”
VINCENT homeowners will wear an average 2.4 per cent rates increase this year.
Commercial properties get no rate rise in return for the council ceasing to pick up their rubbish and requiring them to switch to commercial waste providers. They can get a one-off rebate of $520 this year.
Mayor Emma Cole described it as a mainly back-to-basics budget, with investment in roads, bike and pedestrian networks, and some spending on infrastructure like a $2.1 million Beatty Park makeover and upgrades of Robertson Park.
BAYSWATER ratepayers get an average 2.5 per cent increase this year.
Mayor Dan Bull said “last year we honoured a commitment we made at the start of the Covid-19 crisis and did not increase rates. While a zero percent rate increase cushioned the impact of the pandemic, it is not sustainable.”
But he described the 2.5 per cent increase as “low”. The WA Local Government Association pegged 3.2 per cent as a reasonable increase this year.
The budget includes leeway for some big loans floated for later in the year, with staff proposing borrowing $3.9m for Bayswater Waves, Morley Sport and Rec Centre, and Maylands Waterland. They’ve had no luck getting federal funding for the Waterland so far.
It wasn’t unanimously supported, with an 8-2 vote and councillors Catherine Ehrhardt and Michelle Sutherland dissenting.
STIRLING’S rates go up 0.9 per cent, with mayor Mark Irwin describing the budget as “balanced” and “debt-free”.
Big items this year include redevelopments of the Terry Tyzack Aquatic Centre, Inglewood Oval/Hamer Park, Hamersley Public Golf Course, and the ongoing work to overhaul the Stirling city centre with the Stephenson Avenue extension.
The rates have been partly kept low because Stirling’s benefiting from $6m of state funding for various projects, secured as commitments at the 2021 election.
They also securing $2m in federal cash to investigate a trackless tram for Stephenson Ave.
Mr Irwin said he was proud of Stirling’s advocacy efforts: “We have received informal feedback from the state government that our advocacy approach was more proactive than any other local government and they commended us on putting forward projects that were well-planned, programs that were well researched and initiatives that the city was willing to partner with them on.
“Advocating for federal and state government funding is a crucial part of ensuring that the city can deliver the maximum value to residents across issues and portfolios ordinarily controlled by those levels of government, but expected by the community nonetheless.”