12pc rate rise too much for some

ANITA McINNESSound Telegraph
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Five Rockingham councillors have spoken out against the council increasing its rates by 12 per cent.

The councillors — Deb Hamblin, Leigh Liley, Ann Prince, Paul Ellis and Joy Stewart — said they thought such a big increase was unfair when many ratepayers were already struggling financially.

They said residents also faced increased power and water charges as well as bus and train fare increases announced in the State Budget, all of which kick in this month.

They said it was unreasonable for the council to saddle residents with such a big increase and their preference was for a 9.9 per cent increase.

Crs Hamblin, Liley and Prince had already signalled their opposition to the 12 per cent increase when they voted against the proposal at the council’s Maymeeting.

At the time Cr Hamblin put forward a motion that the council adopt the lower rate of 9.9 per cent but the motion was lost 7-3.

The proposal to adopt the 12 per cent increase was due to be discussed again at a special meeting last night to pass the council’s budget.

The Sound Telegraph understands Cr Ellis was keen to move that a lower rate than 9.9 per cent be adopted, but was having difficulty getting support.

On Friday, former councillor Mal McFetridge of Safety Bay, who started an email protest against the proposed 12 per cent increase, said he had asked as many ratepayers as he could to attend in an effort to fill the public gallery.

Mr McFetridge said a 12 per cent increase was excessive.

‘‘But it’s based on the council wanting to raise $15 million in cash reserves in the next three years,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve heard they’re trying to establish a fighting fund in case a catastrophe happens at the Millar Road rubbish tip.

‘‘But I think they are getting poor advice from some risk management company.’’

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