City of Rockingham Council votes for rate pain next year

RATEPAYERS will face a rise of at least 5 per cent next financial year after City of Rockingham councillors adopted the City’s Business Plan for 2016-17 to 2025-26.

The City’s financial officers will now work with a 5 per cent rate rise to prepare the business plan, which also outlined the major projects to be funded in the City over the next decade.

Councillors voted 7-2 in favour of adopting the business plan with a 5 per cent working rate rise. Council newcomers Kelly McManus and Katherine Summers voted against the plan.

Cr Summers said it was “patently obvious” the City required resources to build new infrastructure, but said she was voting against the plan as it was her responsibility to represent the people.

“A lot of the residents in my ward are over 65 and rely on an aged pension to get by and I don’t know how they can cope with another rate rise,” she said.

“As councillors we have been given a responsibility to represent the people in our wards who elected us, and on that basis I can’t support the plan.”

Cr McManus made her stance clear at last week’s Corporate and Community Development Committee meeting when she said could not support the plan as she campaigned for council on a ticket opposing further rate rises.

The City prepares a business plan twice every financial year, which is updated with the latest information and predictions.

The last version of the City business plan was adopted at the April 2015 council meeting.

Major projects to be funded in 2016 include the Baldivis South Community Centre for $3.5 million and upgrades to the netball courts at Mike Barnett Sports Complex for $340,000.

Projects in 2017 will include the Baldivis District Sportsplex stage one for $12.2 million and Rockingham Outdoor Youth Space for $1.379 million.

The City relies heavily on residential land rates to pay for projects as it lacks diverse rating categories, especially industrial land, that are out of its control.