Canning Mayor Paul Ng has defended the City’s rate rise as “value for money”, likening it to a cup of tea without milk or sugar, after a ratepayer said his pension would struggle to cover this financial year’s rate increase.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, a St James resident on a disability pension said he was concerned rates were increasing too quickly and he was unable to afford his rates of around $850 on his $800 a fortnight pension.
He said in his circumstances, his rates had risen 5.3 per cent for 2016/17, after last year’s 8.5 per cent rise.
Cr Ng said the City’s rates were value for money, saying the lion’s share of the increase would go to the State Government for levies.
He told the man the average increase was 90 cents a week, of which 30 cents went to the State Government and when broken down the cost was 13 cents a day.
“It’s actually value for money,” he said.
He likened the rise to an 8ctea bag and 5c for hot water, before deferring to City Director of Corporate Services Garry Adams.
Mr Adams said Canning remained the lowest rating metropolitan council but he said strategies were in place to minimise rates going forward.
The man queried whether consumer cost of living was a consideration when rates decisions were made.
Mr Adams said it had no bearing.
“It has no bearing on our costs on our council… that doesn’t take into account salaries and wages, which is one of our major costs, it doesn’t take into account things that are weighted disproportionately to us like utility costs,” he said.
Mr Adams said the City paid more than $1 million in electricity alone annually.
“That consumer price index really has little relevance… to what the costs of a council such as Canning (has).”
When the resident enquired about additional subsidies for the elderly or disability pensioners struggling to pay their rates, Mr Adams said he should make suggestions to the council.
“We are always open to suggestions on how we can do that better and I know that there are rate rebates that pensioners get, but I know they’ve now been capped, so we need to look at ways that we can help our seniors in the community,” he said.
“Any suggestions you have for doing that, I’d suggest you put them forward to us and we’ll have a look at how viable they are across our community.”
He told the man to seek help from the council if he had difficulty paying rates.
“If you do have a problem paying your rates, we have different payment arrangements we can put in place for you and our rates staff are more than willing to help you pay that off over a period of time,” he said.
Speaking after the meeting, the man – who asked not to be named – said he felt dismissed by council and left upset.
“I didn’t like that the ball was put back in my court… $60 is a week and a half groceries it is a lot of money to me,” he said.
“My pension hasn’t increased in years, but with the increase in car registration, synergy increase and rates, it hurts.”