Rate discount rejected for Peppermint Grove budget

Stock image.
Stock image.

AUSTRALIA’S smallest council has rejected giving its residents a two per cent discount for early-paid rates to avoid punching a $35,000 hole in its 2018/19 budget.

The Shire of Peppermint Grove is now banking on a cheaper rubbish collection contract to be able to offer the discount in 2019-20.

At the July meeting, staff report said a proposed re-introduced discount was dropped to stop a negative Statement of Comprehensive income and a “major impact” on indicators of financial health in 2018-19.

The 1.1sq km, 1650-resident council dropped a 5 per cent discount in 2010-11 and has had a series of above-CPI rates increases to be stringent after the costs of a court case and building – with Cottesloe and Mosman Park councils – the $18 million Grove community centre, library and council administration.

In comparison, Perth’s second-smallest council, 7743-resident Town of East Fremantle, proposes spending $36,000 upgrading three kitchens in its 2018-19 budget.

Peppermint Grove’s 2018-19 budget allows an additional $57,956 to be collected in a 1.55 per cent rates increase, generating $3.22 million overall in 2018-19.

Its report said not reintroducing the rates discount could be “absorbed” by the budget, which will have a predicted surplus of about $81,000.

Corporate services manager Paul Rawlings said the surplus was “boosted” by $41,028 that was budgeted for, but not spent by, the three councils at The Grove library in 2017-18.

The money increased Peppermint Grove’s surplus for that year and decreased revenue by the same amount for the new budget.

Chief executive Don Burnett said the “responsible” budget reflected residents’ expectations of a low rates rises in a low inflation economy, and works projects and jobs had not been cut.

Mr Burnett said the cancelled rates discount would now be funded by operational savings or “increased revenue from other sources”, and any new waste contract may determine if it is offered again.