A public debate has broken out between the State Government and the City of Greater Geraldton in the wake of rates increases approved by the city council on Monday.
Local Government Minister John Castrilli yesterday upped the ante by backing Geraldton MLA Ian Blayney’s criticism of the increases.
In an unsolicited comment through the Premier’s media office, Mr Castrilli said there had been an average 24 per cent actual increase in Geraldton rates.
“Notwithstanding the fact that the City of Greater Geraldton budget contains capital expenditure of benefit to the community, the increase in rates costs — however you dress it up — will place a high financial stress on property owners and small business owners leasing premises and operating on thin margins,” he said.
City chief executive Tony Brun said he was “flabbergasted” that the State was attacking the council’s 6.7 per cent rise on top of valuation increases when the government itself had gone much further in doing the same thing with residential sewerage and FESA charges.
“In the past two years the government has increased property-based rates in the dollar for sewerage in vacant residential by 80 per cent, and not said a word about it, and the FESA levy has gone up by 3.3 per cent on top of 24 per cent revaluations,” he said.
“The Government never once has, and still hasn’t, justified an 80 per cent increase in two years, never advertised or disclosed it, just did it and hid it while slamming the council’s rates decisions”.
Mr Brun said he had no grudge or desire to pick a fight with the State.
“All I want to highlight is that the City has been through the full range of options from minus 15 per cent to plus 7.5 per cent,” he said.
“The councillors over the past months have spent many hours considering the implications on ratepayers and the levels of services and infrastructure required.”
Mr Castrilli said the rates decision was a matter for the elected members of the City to reconcile.
“I support the position of the Member for Geraldton in expressing his concern with this steep financial impost on the ratepayers of his electorate,” he said.Mr Brun said rates rises could not solely be blamed on local councils.
'The West Australian' is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2013.
All rights reserved.
Select your state to see news for your area.