Peppy Grove braces for highest increase

The Grove library consumed about 34 per cent of the council’s expenditure.
The Grove library consumed about 34 per cent of the council’s expenditure.

However, the 1.5sqkm council’s president Rachel Thomas said the rise, which was reduced after staff recommended 9.8 per cent, was not proof Peppermint Grove was unsustainable.

‘The issue is we are predominately reliant on rates income and so we can only raise rates to get money, and the community has said it is prepared to pay for the cost of staying independent,’ Mrs Thomas said.

She said the council’s ability to perform the wider roles of local government was shown by it co-funding services such as TAPPS and the West Coast Community Centre.

However, the budget and its predecessors had been affected by higher running cost for the $16.5 million The Grove library that consumed about 34 per cent of the council’s expenditure.

The Shire is reviewing the library’s operations after several of its cutting-edge systems failed.

‘This is a higher proportion than we expended for the previous library and it has taken us some time to adjust to this financial change,’ Mrs Thomas said.

Rates will generate $2.58 million in the $4.52 million budget that has about $300,000 for infrastructure including river walls, traffic islands, 80 new trees and $220,000 to maintain all the council’s buildings. Previous budget pressures included the cost of a legal case between the council and a former bowling club on which the library sits that contributed to a $140,000 deficit 12 months ago.

Chief executive John Merrick said erasing the deficit and achieving a surplus required investigation of all 2013-14 spending, buying cheaper cars and the council growing its own trees, but no projects were delayed.

‘When you consider we were looking down a tunnel of deficits, and now we are able to make some savings, and that will continue,’ Mr Merrick said.

His long-term plan proposes rate rises of about 8 per cent in 2014-15 before they slowly drop to about 5 per cent in subsequent years.

Other rises were Nedlands (8 per cent), Rockingham (7.6 per cent), Kalamunda (7 per cent), Wanneroo (5.5 per cent), Claremont (4.6 per cent) and Cottesloe (3.8 per cent) last month.