RATES in the City of Joondalup will increase by 2.95 per cent after the council approved its budget last night.
And for the fourth consecutive year, the City has not increased its refuse charge.
This reflects an average residential rate of $1289.
Councillors voted 11-1 to again apply differential rates for 2018-19 to maintain the distribution of the rate burden between residential, commercial and industrial properties, as well as between improved and vacant land.
In a bid to discourage the holding of vacant land, and therefore promote development, the City also applies a higher differential rate to vacant land.
Though Cr Russell Poliwka supported the proposal “because of the complexity of reworking it for this budget” he said he would be looking to diminish differential rates by 25 per cent over the next four years.
“It falls heavy on small businesses and commercial and industrial land,” he said.
“It’s also hard to swallow that vacant land is charged at 100 per cent more.”
Joondalup Mayor Albert Jacob said preparing the budget was an extremely challenging process.
“It is a challenge to strike a balance of minimising the impacts of rising costs with maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure and facilities and delivering services the community wants and expects,” he said.
He said that last year the rates were projected to increase by 3.4 per cent in 2018-19 and the City had “come a fair way” from that.
He said that for many years, the City had delivered “modest rate increases” through “prudent financial management” but its “operating position has suffered”.
A council document said the City’s operating deficit of about $6 million was not sustainable.
“This budget has delivered a small improvement to the operating deficit but the City will need to continue to give concerted attention to further improve this in the near term,” it said.
Mr Jacob said the City was responsible for more than $1.5 billion worth of assets throughout the community, “all of which are rightly provided to a high standard but are also costly to manage and maintain”.
“The City also delivers essential services to the community, including waste collection, immunisation services, community safety, animal control, health services such as food and water inspections and building certifications, and community services such as libraries and youth services.”
However, he said it was pleasing to be able to maintain the City’s refuse charge.
“This is in no small part due to the new method of bulk waste collection, which has been in operation over the past two years and has led to improved recycling rates as well as easing the financial burden for ratepayers,” he said.
“The City’s new three-bin system of waste collection, which will commence in early 2019, will further… help to prevent significant rises in future to the refuse charge which would otherwise have been incurred.”