This year's rate rise will be 6.9%. Above inflation increases put a disproportionate burden on people on low incomes and is not something council should do lightly. I voted against this because there are some areas of the the city's expenditure that I think should have been looked at before committing to such an increase.
In particular I'm not convinced of the scale of spending in some areas of marketing, economic development, events management (which has gone up by 27%), and corporate networking functions. An example of the latter is the Strategic Imperatives Function this August that will cost $18,000. Some of these functions have featured really interesting speakers specialising in urban design; but I'd like to see more of them done as open public meetings at the Town Hall rather than invite-only VIP wine-and-dine events.
In practice the rates rise will actually be higher than the headline figure of 6.9% because the base figure on which rates are calculated has also been adjusted. Every three years Landgate (formerly the Valuer General) does a Gross Rental Valuation on properties across the state. This valuation fluctuates with property prices. Across Fremantle the value of residential of property has increased by an average of 40%. The Hilton average is a bit higher than this, and Samson a bit lower. Relative to last year's figure, residential rates will increase by an average of 12%.
Other budget items
I'll put up a summary of the budget on my blog soon, particularly how it affects Hilton and Samson. Some of the really good budget initiatives include a revamped visitors centre, a disability access ramp for the swimming pool, funding for the bike plan and a coordinator for the newly renovated Hilton PCYC-Progress Hall centre.
Barnett: putting the squeeze on local government and residents
State government cost shifting puts a massive pressure on local government to increase rates. The city will be copping an above inflation electricity price hike like everyone else, but the tariff for street lighting has gone up by a whopping 30%. To rub salt in the wounds, they're winding back the under ground power program and slashing the feed-in tariff for residents with solar panels.
Meanwhile they made a big show of increasing funding to contracted private not-for-profit organisations that provide community services. But local governments that also provide these services on behalf of the state will not get the increase. They say we should just squeeze the money out of residents instead. Over a three year period this funding shortfall is equivalent to over $300,000.