COTTESLOE Council has been told it cannot maintain its assets and have rate rises below 3.5 per cent.
“Low rate increases with cuts to operating or asset management obligations are not sustainable, but neither are budgets that continue to raise rates well above the level of inflation,” a staff report told councillors when they adopted the 2016-17 budget last month June.
The report said if financial fiscal discipline was kept maintained, the council’s financial outlook was “very positive” because of healthy reserves and a high level of operational efficiency.
The pressure to keep rate rises low has raised concerns about the impact on maintenance and building new infrastructure in the long term across local government.
“Council’s Long Term Financial Plan shows the town’s operating position returning to a surplus in five years, and this is achieved by minimising cost increases while maintaining rates income increases at 3.5 per cent,” a Cottesloe Council spokeswoman said.
The budget raised the minimum rates for all types of properties 3.5 per cent, resulting in a 2.6 per cent increase for most homes.
The improved and vacant residential rates, and industrial improved rate, are now 5.52c/dollar, while the commercial town rate is 6.39c/dollar
The report said sustainability had been met with a combination of the 3.5 percent increase, meeting all operational and asset costs and allowing some room for some discretionary spending.
The $9.1 million windfall sale of the council’s works depot in 2013 continues to fund vital works including the forthcoming foreshore plan, new beach paths and beach terrace improvements.The spokeswoman said a budget deficit of $928,757 was “largely” due to depreciation.“However, the Rate Setting Statement, which is the total budget, as seen on page 5 of the budget, shows a balanced budget where income equals expenditure,” she said.
Councillors get $15,000 to attend meetings, while Mayor Jo Dawkins will be paid $24,000 and have an allowance of $27,500.