Warning of rate rises with big councils

David Templeman.
David Templeman.

‘The bottom line for me is still what will be the cost to the ratepayer for these changes, and it not being shifted to the ratepayer who will be on the receiving end of an ever-increasing spiral of rates increases,’ Mr Templeman (pictured), a former City of Mandurah councillor, said.

The Government is currently considering merger options, including 12 mega-cities suggested by its Robson Review of local government. Merger opponents cite increased costs and lesser services as when Queensland reduced its councils from 157 to 73 in 2008, leading to a March 9 poll when four councils demerged, leaving ratepayers to foot the bill for the initial amalgamations.

Mr Templeman said the onus was on Local Government Minister Tony Simpson to show councils in May meetings at the WA Local Government Association that rates rises would not result from mergers across Perth.

This was particularly for those councils next to the Swan River where things like river wall repairs could be an opportunity for the State Government to abrogate its responsibilities.

He said he would meet ‘key’ councils such as Joondalup, Stirling, Armadale and Rockingham to discuss the impact change.

He said he did not support the Review’s 250,000-resident ‘mega-councils’ centred on the strategic centres because they could reduce the quality of services to residents.

Mr Templeman was critical of the regional council model promoted by Cottesloe Mayor Kevin Morgan suggesting councils shared services as they amalgamated over several years to avoid sudden cost increases.

‘There’s always the risk that councils (in regional partnerships) will always fall back to a parochial position,’ he said.