Carbon tax adds to rates pain
Carbon tax adds to rates pain

WA households are being hit with rate rises of up to 15 per cent as councils blame the carbon tax for the soaring cost of electricity and rubbish collection.

Some councils estimate the tax, which came into effect on July 1, will cost them up to $1.4 million in the next financial year alone, with ratepayers to bear the brunt through increased charges.

But Federal Climate Change Minister Greg Combet has questioned the increases, claiming the carbon tax should only equate to an 0.4 per cent rate rise.

Four of WA's councils - Mindarie Regional Council, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Armadale and Rockingham - are liable to pay the tax due to their large carbon emissions, but many others claim they too are being hit.

Ratepayers are being told the tax will affect the cost of street lighting, building materials, utilities, waste management and road construction.

Stirling City Council has directly attributed one per cent of its rate rise to the carbon tax, while Kalgoorlie-Boulder has confirmed a 2 per cent impact.

The cities of Canning, Bassendean, Victoria Park, Joondalup, Wanneroo and Cockburn have also warned of a significant impact.

According to 2012-13 budget statements, rate rises across Perth will vary from 3.95 per cent, or a minimum of $43, in Stirling to 10 per cent, or $80, in Rockingham. Ratepayers are also facing extra waste collection charges of up to $100 a year.

Cockburn mayor Logan Howlett said local governments were facing a testing time, with a 12 per cent increase in power prices coupled with rising landfill charges, leaving them with no choice but to pass on the costs to ratepayers.

He said the carbon tax would cost Cockburn City Council $1.4 million, including $400,000 in power prices and a $1 million fee imposed on its waste facility at Henderson.

Mr Combet has urged ratepayers to ask their councils how increases of up to 2 per cent are related to the carbon price, given that in NSW the independent regulator put the carbon price impact on council rates at 0.4 per cent.

"Where councils have significant carbon liabilities from landfill operations, residents should ask what steps are being taken to reduce these liabilities," a spokesman for the minister said.

WA Local Government Association president Troy Pickard said the impact of the carbon tax would vary from council to council.

"We believe the largest cost increases for councils will be from electricity and waste disposal in landfills," he said.

The West Australian

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