Rates rise excludes merger costs

At its May 26 meeting, the shire council agreed to advertise a rate increase of 5 per cent for 2014-2015, in keeping with its long term financial plan.

Residential home owners will face a minimum $800 rates fee.

Chief executive Rhonda Hardy said there was too little information to start charging residents through rates to help recover amalgamation costs.

‘In light of the ramifications of the State Government’s Budget and the funding allocated for local governments, we did consider the option of increasing rates to recover costs,’ she said.

‘But it was decided that to do that we would need to do more homework before making such a decision.

‘We feel that to charge without knowing all the facts would be fundamentally flawed; more work needs to be done first.’

The State Government announced $5 million a year for the next three years and an additional $45 million in low-interest loans to local governments to help cover reform costs as part of its 2014-2015 Budget.

The figure fell short of expectations, with costs estimated between $60 and $100 million, angering mayors and presidents.

When the State Budget was released, Kalamunda Shire President Sue Bilich

called the financial aid ‘an insult’.

‘The unwilling councils being forced to merge, like Kalamunda, will have to borrow money to pay for themselves to be abolished,’ she said.