Mayor hits back at rates cap plan

Mr Simpson announced at Wednesday�s WA Local Government Association (WALGA) annual general meeting the Government would consider putting a cap on council rates at consumer price index (CPI) to put downward pressure on rate rises.

He said local governments had to acknowledge action was needed to curb rate increases across the metropolitan area, which have been growing much faster than CPI.

He also proposed that rate settings could come under the control of the Economic Regulation Authority, which would scrutinise rate rises to determine whether they were justified. However, City of Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels said the issue was not rate increases but rate revenue.

City councillors recently voted in favour of a rate increase of 7 per cent, which was the sixth successive significant raising of rates.

Unlike other local governments, the City relies solely on rates to generate revenue. Cr Sammels said if all metropolitan councils had an equitable mix of commercial, industrial and residential rates, the need to consider capping rates would not be needed because there would rarely be a need to increase rates above CPI.

�In order to level the playing field, rate revenue profiles need to be redistributed through a total overhaul of boundaries,� he said. �If that was to happen, rate capping, or other forms of third party intervention, would be acceptable, notwithstanding that they would probably be unnecessary.�