BAYSWATER Council has passed its 2018-19 budget with a general rate increase of 3.5 per cent, despite residents’ concerns over two projects in Maylands.
At last night’s special council meeting, some residents claimed the City was the “City of Maylands” rather than Bayswater, after Maylands residents and Friends of Maylands Lakes (FOML) members questioned council’s transparency about the Maylands Lakes and Maylands Waterland.
FOML chairman Geoff Trott said more communication was needed between the council and community, as residents were not informed of the $255,000 decrease in funding for stage two of the Maylands Lakes restoration project.
Works and infrastructure director Doug Pearson said $1 million was allocated to the dredging of the lakes, which would take place within the financial year while other works would take place in the 2019-2020 financial year.
“Funding is still $1.25 million over two years…the rest will be available from July 1, 2019,” he said.
There will also be a new reserve account established to fund asset preservation and environmental requirements for the Lakes.
Meanwhile, Mayor Dan Bull acknowledged residents’ concerns over the lack of consultation during the budget process and suggested council could look into having a participatory budget in the future.
Cr Bull responded to calls to retain the Waterland, rather than potentially turning it into a playground by making changes to the officer’s recommendation to allocate $1.5 million from public open space funds for the redevelopment of the Waterland.
The amendments include chief executive Andrew Brien seeking additional funding from State and Federal Government for capital refurbishments to the Waterland and report back to council and the community by October.
If funding was not obtained, alternate development options would be progressed by using public open space cash-in-lieu funds, in consultation with the community.
Cr Bull also amended a material variance from $250,000 to $100,000 or 10 per cent of the appropriate base.
Councillors supported the budget and amendments 7-3, with councillors Elli Petersen-Pik, Catherine Ehrhardt and Filomena Piffaretti voted against.
Cr Ehrhardt said it was unlikely external funding would be obtained by October, which meant Cr Bull’s amendments would “not kill the Waterland tonight but kill it in October”.
Cr Petersen-Pik, whose alternative amendments to defer the initial funding for the Waterland redevelopment by a year was lost, said he hoped other governments could contribute funding because most residents did not have pools.
‘Frugal budget’ not filled with ‘big ticket’ capital projects, according to Mayor
The council supported a rate in the dollar for all properties of $0.0621 and a minimum rate of $880.
Other features of the budget include $3.1 million for operating libraries, $9.6 million on three recreation centres, $5.7 million for sporting clubs, $435,000 for five new playgrounds and $9.8 million in upgrades to roads, footpaths and drains.
There was also $2 million allocated for CCTV cameras, $400,000 on tree planting and $100,000 towards the Wider Meltham Station Precinct Structure Plan.
Cr Bull said it was a “frugal budget”, which ensured the council remained debt-free.
“The development of this year’s budget has not occurred in a vacuum…external cost pressures have played a key a role in budget deliberations,” he said.
“Here in the City, 90 percent of our rates revenue comes from residential properties and as such the rates burden is carried mostly by residents who are already feeling the pressure from increases in the cost of utilities.
“In real terms, this means the owner of an average sized property in the City of Bayswater will see an increase in their rates bill of around a dollar a week or $40 on their annual bill.
“This budget is a record of council’s commitment to deliver the services valued by the community.”