Mayor defends Rockingham Rate Rise

Mayor defends Rockingham Rate Rise
Mayor Barry Sammels.
Mayor Barry Sammels.

RATES in the City of Rockingham will go up by 7 per cent next financial year.

Councillors debated the issue for more than an hour on Tuesday night, with those on both sides of the argument speaking passionately and animatedly at times.

The 7 per cent rise was endorsed six votes to four, and an alternate motion from Cr Leigh Liley to direct the chief executive to prepare a budget based on a 4.3 per cent rise was defeated by the same margin.

The City collects most of its revenue through rates and revenue based on a 7 per cent rise is expected to be $71.35 million.

This revenue will pay for a number of major capital projects in the 2015/16 business plan, including the Waterfront Village Foreshore Park Redevelopment, extensions to the Singleton Community Centre, clubrooms at Rhonda Scarrott Reserve in Secret Harbour, clubrooms and playing fields in Baldivis and the City’s new three bin waste collection system.

Cr Liley introduced her motion by saying the City was not listening to ratepayers and “now was not the right time or economic climate” to introduce another significant rise.

Councillors Deb Hamblin, Ron Pease and Joy Stewart, who had been the solitary voice of opposition when the issue appeared on last month’s corporate and community development committee agenda, supported her motion.

Mayor Barry Sammels and councillors Richard Smith, Matthew Whitfield, Chris Elliott, Allan Hill and Justin Smith all voted in favour of the 7 per cent rise.

Cr Sammels said all councillors were aware of the impact annual rates had on household budgets and as much as he would like to keep rates low, the needs of the future needed to be considered today.

“Failing to plan properly for what we’ll need 10 years from now would be financially irresponsible for future residents of the City,” he said.

Cr Hill said that in 25 years of local government involvement he had never shied away from making hard decisions and questioned why othercouncillors’ positions had