Size of rate rises  baffles residents
Going up: Some homeowners are being hit by big rate increases. Picture: Gerald Moscarda/The West Australian

Perth councils are not hiding the true size of rate rises but could explain them better, says the head of the sector's lobby group, after some residents had rate rises of nearly 50 per cent.

Ratepayers have been caught off-guard by rate increases that go well above the average, which range from 2.5 per cent to 12 per cent across Perth's metropolitan councils.

One Subiaco resident was shocked to learn he faced an increase of nearly 50 per cent on his commercial strata unit.

Other residents from the cities of Stirling and Melville who contacted _The West Australian _ said they did not understand why their rate increases were two to four times the size of the average.

Perth councils cited higher waste and utility charges to explain above-inflation rate increases for 2014-15. At the same time, rates have been affected by a revaluation of properties, which is done every three years and links rate increases to estimated rental values.

Rates are then calculated by multiplying the gross rental value of a property by the rate in the dollar.

Some local governments partially offset the rise by reducing that figure.

WA Local Government Association president Troy Pickard said councils did not use average increases to conceal the truth but conceded the process could be more transparent.

"There (are) always . . . opportunities to improve comprehension and understanding of rate notices and I'm confident councils will draw on feedback and ensure all avenues are explored to create as much transparency as possible," he said.

Asked if councils should do more to minimise rate rises, he said there was a difference between minimising increases and subsidising ratepayers.

City of Stirling chief executive Stuart Jardine said the council had tried to minimise the impact on ratepayers by reducing the rate in the dollar.

"Each notice clearly stated the rates required to be paid by each property but ratepayers must understand the GRV, which occurs only once every three years, is calculated by Landgate and as rental prices increase, so too does this figure," he said.

On top of changes to property valuations, City of Melville chief executive Shane Silcox said the inclusion of the waste charge within rates this year had created "some confusion to our ratepayers".

The West Australian

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