Rockingham council to vote next week on 4 per cent rate increase rather than 5 per cent

Rockingham council to vote next week on 4 per cent rate increase rather than 5 per cent

CITY of Rockingham ratepayers look set to receive a 4 per cent rate increase when council sits next Tuesday.

The scheduled increase was set to 5 per cent but at a committee meeting last night councillor Leigh Liley tabled an alternate motion to reduce it.

Councillors Lee Downham, Kelly McManus and Joy Stewart supported the motion, which passed 4-1 and will be tabled for recommendation next week.

However, Cr Justin Smith spoke against the 1 per cent cut, saying while it may pass on short-term relief to ratepayers it could cause long-term pain and cost the council potentially millions.

“It’s not just us we have to think about, it’s future councillors,” he said.

Cr Smith said he believed a number of factors contributed to the City’s reliance on rates and they were important to locals.

“These are all needs projects, not wants… when times get tough, people look to local government to create growth and jobs and that’s what we are doing with these projects,” he said.

He was not the only critic of the drop, with Cr Chris Elliott, who was listed as a deputy at the meeting, saying the drop would only save the average homeowner around $11 a year, and would have implications on scheduled projects.

“The cut will save you approximately a Big Mac meal, a fries and a coke,” he said.

Cr Joy Stewart said while she was aware of the impact the cut may have on the City, council must consider the community’s capacity to pay.

Last month, a motion to increase rates by 3 per cent was rejected by the council.

The motion will go before council next Tuesday night; the meeting will start at 6pm and members of the public are welcome to attend.