Rockingham rates debate

Chloe FraserSound Telegraph
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City of Rockingham ratepayers will likely be hit with a 3.6 per cent increase in residential rates for the 2019/20 financial year, after councillors last night voted to advertise the proposal for public comment.

According to the city’s business plan, about $92.097 million needed to be generated in the 2019/20 financial year to service the City’s current and future requirements, including detailed financial information.

The proposed 3.6 per cent rise is expected to yield about $90.81 million from all rates, not including interim rates which are anticipated to make up any short fall.

The report proposes the minimum rate on all gross rental value properties be increased from $1158 to $1200 for the 2019/20 financial year, or 3.6 per cent more than the 2018/19 rate in the dollar.

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However at last night’s council meeting, councillor Matthew Whitfield put forward an alternate motion seeking a rise of 2.6 per cent instead of the proposed 3.6 per cent.

He said while the City needed to provide services and facilities to keep up with “fast growth”, there were other ways to alleviate the City’s spending.

“The council is asking ratepayers to once again dip into their pockets at a time when council has made decisions that could have assisted burden on ratepayers,” he said.

“I think there is a bigger conversation that we need to have.”

During the debate councillor Leigh Liley said the extra 1 per cent increase, which would equate to a $49 a year increase for ratepayers or four cents per day, would tally a compounded $11.1 million for the City over 10 years.

Councillor Andrew Burns acknowledged “money was tight” for ratepayers, but said trying to save a “couple of dollars” would create a bigger hole in the City’s pocket.

“I can understand any increase isn’t popular, but we have to balance what is popular with what is right,” he said.

When put to the vote, Cr Whitfield’s alternate motion was lost 8-1, with councillors instead endorsing the committee recommendation to put the 3.6 per cent increase out for public comment.

Based on the committee recommendation, the differential rate on gross rental valuation properties will be 7.26200 cents in the dollar for residential land, while a differential rate of 8.58600 cents in the dollar will be applied to non-residential land.

The public comment period will be open for 28 days before a final decision is made.

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