Stirling council approves budget and rate rise

City of Stirling.
City of Stirling.

STIRLING councillors who campaigned for no rate rise believe the 1.7 per cent increase imposed is fair.

Council adopted the 2018-19 budget at last night’s meeting, including a 1.4 per cent average rate rise for residents.

MORE: City of Stirling council votes against rates freeze

Adding the 3 per cent, or $10, standard increase in bin collection costs and a $30 mandatory property surveillance and security service charge, equates to an average 1.7 per cent, or $27.80, overall rise in rates.

Crs Suzanne Migdale and Adam Spagnolo admitted they had promised to seek a rates freeze during last year’s local government elections, along with Cr Karlo Perkov, but agreed with the budget presented.

“While I wanted nothing more than to see a zero rate rise, I believe this budget achieves the absolute best outcome for residents,” Cr Migdale said.

Cr Spagnolo said rates needed to rise to cover increases in State Government household charges.

“If it wouldn’t have been for some of those State charges I think it would have been different,” he said.

Councillors voted at the April meeting to consider a rates freeze as part of the budget process, following a motion by Cr Spagnolo.

But Cr Elizabeth Re believed the increase in rubbish charges was unfair and extra income collected as a consequence of urban infill should go back into the community, saying local government was a community service.

The budget includes $26.9 million of spending on roads, including $10.8 million on upgrades and $3.4 million of footpath construction, $9 million towards parks and reserves works, and $10.7 million for upgrades to City buildings.

There was $38 million allocated for waste services and $24 million for community and library services.

A $6.9 million surplus is expected for the 2018-19 financial year and the City will remain debt free.

Acting mayor David Lagan said the budget allowed City to continue to deliver a high level of services, programs and infrastructure while progressing major projects.

“To ensure we are able to achieve this, the City’s rate increase has been set at 1.4 per cent, which is one of the lowest increases across the metropolitan area and below the forecast CPI of 1.5 per cent,” he said.

“This is despite a marked increase to many government services, including a 10 per cent rise in the Emergency Services Levy which is collected through rates notices but doesn’t go to the City.”

Neighbouring councils’ rates increases were 2.95 per cent in Joondalup, 2 per cent (excluding waste) in Wanneroo, 3.5 per cent in Bayswater and 0.8 per cent in Perth.

The budget will be available on the City’s website by close of business on July 5.