CITY of Melville councillors used a special meeting on Thursday night to add a raft of new items to the 2016-17 budget, bringing next year’s rate rise increase to a predicted 2.5 per cent.
The new rate is 1 per cent higher than the 1.5 per cent increase endorsed by council at its ordinary meeting earlier this month.
It comes after an elected member budget workshop, during which councillors asked for more items to be considered for inclusion in next year’s budget.
Chief among those items was the provision of an additional $500,000 for repairs and maintenance of aquatic facilities at LeisureFit Booragoon.
While a report into the required work has not yet been prepared, it is estimated the work will cost about $4 million, which will be gathered through rates over the coming years.
An amendment proposing the $500,000 instead be drawn from the Federal Assistance Grants Fund was defeated 7-6, based largely on the fact that those funds will be required for the planned construction of a new civic building that will act as a central community facility and culture hub.
Also hotly debated was the provision of an additional $180,000 to the previously budgeted increase to the salaries of City employees.
Councillors voted 8-5 to bump the pay of City staff by an additional 0.25 per cent, resulting in an overall increase of 2 per cent from 2015-16.
The only other item debated was the inclusion of just over $10,000 for the Willagee Homework Club to cover staffing costs for one day a week of the Caralee Community School support program.
Councillors Rebecca Aubrey and Matt Woodall felt funding for the education program should instead have come from the State Government, but lost a vote to withdraw the item 11-2.
The City’s 2016-17 budget will be confirmed, and the rise in rates finalised, at a special council meeting next month.