Concern over merger costs

Maylands MLA Lisa Baker with City of Bayswater councillor Barry McKenna (left) and City of Stirling councillor David Lagan in front of Inglewood Clock Tower. Picture: Marcus Whisson www.communitypix.com.au d420581
Maylands MLA Lisa Baker with City of Bayswater councillor Barry McKenna (left) and City of Stirling councillor David Lagan in front of Inglewood Clock Tower. Picture: Marcus Whisson www.communitypix.com.au d420581

‘I am happy to represent councils at the State Government table to ask for more money,’ he said.

‘But there is a lot more work to do around these costs.’

He said the Local Government Advisory Board’s final report, expected to be released in July, would include modelling on the cost of the changes.

In last month’s State Budget, $45 million in loans was earmarked to councils for amalgamations, with interest subsidised by 2 per cent by the State Government, and $5 million grants for three years.

Maylands MLA Lisa Baker said this would not cover the cost of amalgamations and councils could be forced to reduce services, sell assets or increase rates.

‘Ratepayers are going to have to cover the costs,’ she said.

City of Bayswater councillor Barry McKenna said amalgamating the City’s computer system was estimated to cost $1 million.

‘This is just one cost,’ he said.

City of Stirling councillor David Lagan said he was shocked the State Government had not committed more money for the amalgamations.

‘Ultimately council will have to balance the costs,’ he said.

But Mr Simpson said suggestions councils would be forced to increase rates or sell assets to cover the cost of amalgamations were premature as set costs had not be outlined.

‘Each local government is in control of their assets and they choose what they do with them,’ he said.

‘But they will have to consult with ratepayers.

‘Ratepayers and taxpayers are the same person; if the State Government puts in money it comes from taxpayers.’