Cr Anne Prince said she felt council could have ‘looked at leaving out something this year’ from its expenditure budget, especially as it was common to see people sleeping rough around the council administration building.
She said she had even been approached by a man who only had $80 left after paying all his bills, could not afford to pay his rates and was in danger of losing his home.
‘People are losing their homes. These people have jobs but they can’t afford the rising cost of living,’ Cr Prince said.
Mayor Barry Sammels said there were payment options people could take advantage of to make paying rates more manageable.
A council spokeswoman said forms for a direct debit option with a minimum instalment of $20 were available on the council’s website or by speaking to council.
During question time, Brian Preston from the Singleton Residents’ Association implored the council not to pass on the 7.6 per cent increase, saying many of the 3000-plus residents of Singleton were on fixed incomes and had not received improved services.
He suggested the council provide residents with a new kind of street tree called ‘pecuniam arbor’, or a money tree, and that constant rate rises had caused council to lose its connection with residents and the trust of ratepayers.
Cr Leigh Liley said geographic location did not preclude people from receiving services and Cr Sammels said he felt disappointed when people said they were not getting adequate council services.
‘I admire the council; increasing rates is not an easy thing to do. We don’t enjoy it but we have a responsibility,’ he said.
Rises were necessary to maintain ageing and existing infrastructure like public toilets, roads, parks, footpaths and recreation centres, plus the needs of a rapidly expanding population with facilities such as Baldivis library.