Anger over merger funds

The State Government offered $5 million a year over three years to assist in the local government amalgamation process, as well as loans to the value of $45 million.

The WA Local Government Association (WALGA) estimates the mergers will cost as much as $100 million. President Troy Pickard said because the borrowing costs would be borne by the new entities, rates would have to rise.

‘That will leave a nasty taste in the mouths of ratepayers,’ Mr Pickard said.

Kalamunda Shire President Sue Bilich said ratepayers’ pockets would take a hit.

‘This (funding) is totally inadequate and if councils have to fund their own mergers, it would inevitably lead to big jumps in rates,’ she said.

Action group spokesman Peter Kenyon agreed.

‘Rates could go up by $300 to $500 a household,’ he said.

‘We estimate it will cost at least $10 million in staff redundancies, rebranding including street signs and new technology packages for Kalamunda alone.

Kalamunda MLA John Day said the figure offered was a ‘substantial amount.’

‘The State Government has contributed substantially to reform,’ he said. ‘This is being done for long-term interests.’