Rockingham rates: councillor to push for lower rates rise

Rockingham rates: councillor to push for lower rates rise

RATE relief may be on the way for Rockingham ratepayers with The Courier able to reveal an alternate motion proposing a 3 per cent increase will be tabled at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Under the City of Rockingham’s City Business Plan April 2016, a 5 per cent increase would come into effect if council were to adopt it on Tuesday, but the alternate motion to be tabled by Councillor Matt Whitfield would see a two per cent drop on that number.

In the City’s April 2015 plan, rate revenues were budgeted to be about $77.7 million but in this year’s plan the total revenue is expect to be closer to $79.5 million, an unexpected $1.8 million surplus.

Cr Whitfield cites this unexpected windfall as a reason for the motion, saying it could be used to provide relief to ratepayers.

Other reasons for the motion include an increase in Rockingham’s unemployment rate to 7.17 per cent (1.27 per cent above the national rate) and a 3.4 per cent decrease in median house prices.

Cr Whitfield said not everyone behind the scenes feels a 5 per cent increase is necessary.

The motion is likely to find support among other councillors with some speaking out against rate increases in the past.

Cr Joy Stewart opposed last year’s rate increase, voicing her concerns in a committee and council meetings last year while Cr Leigh Liley tabled an alternate motion to decrease rates last year, but it was defeated 6-4 with a 7 per cent rate increase passed by the same number.

Deputy mayor Deb Hamlin was one of the four to support Cr Liley’s motion last year, while it will be the first time councillors Lee Downham, Kelly McManus and Katherine Summers vote on rate issues since being elected last year.

Councillor Summers and McManus both ran for council with an interest in reducing rates so it will put them to the test early in their council tenure.

Using last year’s figures, rates have nearly doubled since 2009, with the minimum cost increasing from $588 to $1043.

The motion will go before council on Tuesday evening with the meeting beginning at 6pm.

Members of the public are welcome.