More transparency on the cards


Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett
Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett

Under suggestions from Mayor Logan Howlett, the dollar figure levied on ratepayers by the council, the State Government and the Federal Government would be included on rate notices as separate figures.

It would be a voluntary measure no other council has taken, according to Cockburn’s finance and corporate services director Stuart Downing.

The City would also change the way information is shown in the City’s rates information brochure and would improve community engagement before the rates objects and reasons notice was finalised.

“Local government being the third tier is constantly subject to cost shifting as the State and Federal governments seek to cut costs to reduce their respective budget deficits,” Mr Downing said.

“The need to ensure that the community sees the rate-setting process as fair, equitable and transparent is paramount if confidence is to be maintained in not only spending ratepayers’ funds but also in collecting rates and other charges.”

The proposal was backed by councillors at the City’s ordinary council meeting two weeks ago.

The City will now seek support from the WA Local Government Association.

“The City’s aim is for Walga to do the lobbying across the sector so that the sector can be seen as more transparent and not just one or two councils who have taken the bit between their teeth over the matter,” Mr Howlett said.

“We would be disappointed if this did not spark intense debate amongst the members of Walga.”

Walga president Lynne Craigie said they had taken Cockburn’s suggestions on board.

“In terms of any state-wide policy position or communications activity, we will be guided by our members as to their wishes and look forward to receiving feedback and direction through our zones and state council governance process to arrive at an appropriate course of action,” she said.

“In addition, Walga is currently engaged in a working group with the Department of Local Government which is looking at ways in which to provide better information to the community on rating processes and outcomes.”