Rockingham: motion to decrease rates shot down by council

RATES for Rockingham ratepayers look likely to increase 5 percent for 2016-17 after an alternate motion to decrease the rise to 3 per cent was defeated at council last night.

The Courier broke the news last week that Councillor Matthew Whitfield would table the alternate motion to amend the City Business Plan but it was not well received by council who voted it down 8-2.

Cr Whitfield and Lee Downham were the only two to support the motion, which Cr Whitfield proposed in response to increasing unemployment, decreasing house prices and an overall unstable WA economy.

The council then passed the original business plan, flagging its intention to increase rates by 5 per cent in 2016-17 despite receiving $1.8 million more rates revenue than expected in April last year.

It completes a remarkable U-turn by some councillors, who up until last night had been vocal advocates for decreasing rates or keeping them in line with inflation.

Last November Crs Kelly McManus and Katherine Summers sided against a 5 per cent increase, while Crs Leigh Liley, Deb Hamblin and Joy Stewart all voted against last year’s 7 per cent increase.

Cr Summers said after consulting members of her ward, she felt the community did not want a rate cut if it meant the delay of infrastructure and a decrease in services.

City of Rockingham has begun or will begin several large projects in the coming years, including the $12 million stage one development of the Baldivis District Sportsplex and the $1.4 million Rockingham Outdoor Youth Space.

Mayor Barry Sammels said it was not the final opportunity for councillors to vote on rates, with further deliberation possible at May’s council meeting.