The West

Councils blame Govt for rate rise
Going up: Homeowners face higher rates. Picture: Gerald Moscarda/The West Australian

Rates in many Perth suburbs are rising at more than twice the inflation rate, with councils citing higher waste and utility costs.

One-third of WA's 30 metropolitan councils have approved or flagged rises of 5.5 per cent or above for 2014-15 - at least twice the 2.75 per cent consumer price index forecast.

And half have rate rises of 5 per cent or more, which is at least twice the local government sector's inflation measure, which has forecast 2.5 per cent.

Households may also face a further rate rise on top of those announced, once the outcome of planned local government reform is known, because some councils have not made provisions to fund it.

A survey of Perth councils by _The West Australian _ found the scope of the average rise - some councils have different rates for residents and businesses - varied from 2.5 per cent to 12 per cent. What charges were included in the rates varied between councils and some budgets still required final approval.

Many councils highlighted rises in the waste levy and utility costs to justify the size of the rate rise. Others pointed to the loss of Federal Government funding because of a freeze on financial assistance grants.

Councils with fast-growing populations, such as Wanneroo and Rockingham, said that growth had affected the budget.

Budget provisions for local government reform varied.

The City of Bayswater made a $1 million provision for reform, $850,000 of which was funded by a State Government grant.

Nedlands did not allocate any money, arguing the Government should be funding any amalgamation or boundary change.

The Government has allocated $5 million for reform in 2014-15 but the funds are not available until the Local Government Minister receives the Local Government Advisory Board's report.

Town of Victoria Park deputy mayor Claire Anderson said despite the town's 12 per cent rate increase - 10.5 per cent for residential and 14 per cent for commercial - it was still one of the lowest rating councils in Perth.

"For a number of years the town's rates have increased approximately 8 per cent, primarily to fund the town's strategic community plan," she said.

"The extra 4 per cent increase this year is required to cover State Government impacts: waste levy, street lighting tariff, electricity charges, withdrawal of roads funding, water charges, local government reform."

Rates were also affected by property revaluations by the Valuer-General. Serpentine- Jarrahdale president Keith Ellis said the shire's 7 per cent rise included an emergency services levy to cover six fire brigades.

The West Australian

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