Clash over rates, services

Claremont Council is in a disagreement with Cottesloe MLA Colin Barnett. Picture: file image
Claremont Council is in a disagreement with Cottesloe MLA Colin Barnett. Picture: file image

‘It is a reflection on the standard of debate in State Parliament that a member can denigrate a council (and) assert its ratepayers are ‘probably paying hundreds of dollars more than they should’ on the basis of an interjection,’ Cr Bruce Haynes said last week.

Debating council mergers in Parliament on September 10, Mr Barnett said rates for his house in the 10,000-resident Town of Claremont were $2600 before Deputy Premier Kim Hames said it would be $1200 in the 200,000-resident City of Stirling.

The Government has always claimed larger councils are more efficient during its on-going, five-year attempt to merge councils.

‘Do I get over twice the service of the people of Stirling? I don’t think so!’ Mr Barnett said.

‘My constituents are probably paying hundred of dollars more than they should,’ he said. ‘They are starting to realise that too.’

However, Claremont subsequently calculated that Mr Barnett’s rates would be $2589.95 in Stirling, and the smaller council was spending more than the average for councils on roads.

A measure to show how well a council can generate cash to repay what they borrow show Claremont’s debt service ratio was 10.98, compared to Stirling’s 0, when a level of 2.0 or higher is considered basic and greater than 5.0 is advanced.

Other comparisons looked at the operating surplus ratios of the two councils ” Claremont (0.27), Stirling (0.0913) ” that requires a level of more than 0.15 to be considered advanced.

Cr Haynes said the comparisons showed why Claremont had ‘slightly higher rates’, why both councils were sustainable, but they could not be used to sustain the Government’s argument that larger councils would provide ‘economies of scale’.

A spokeswomen for Mr Barnett said he had no comment on the figures.