The West

Perth councils are sitting on more than $1 billion in cash, investments and reserves.

Figures collated by _The West Australian _ as a snapshot of local government finances show cash and cash-equivalent holdings among the State's 30 metropolitan councils add up to more than $1 billion but vary between councils from less than $1 million to more than $200 million.

Local governments with big infrastructure projects to fund tend to be the most cashed-up.

In many cases, most of the councils' cash is restricted in some way, including funds raised through a special area rate for a specific project, money received through developer contribution plans and grant funding carried over from one year to the next.

The City of Wanneroo, for example, had estimated holdings of $229 million at June 30 but $217 million, or 95 per cent, of that was restricted because it was tied up in specific reserves, town planning schemes or relates to unspent grant contributions and loans.

By comparison, the Shire of Peppermint Grove had just $600,000 in the bank.

Similarly, of the City of Gosnells' estimated $94 million, nearly $42 million was from developer contributions to pay for new infrastructure and $13 million was earmarked for creditors.

The City of Joondalup had nearly $72 million, of which $52 million was for approved projects, such as the $1 billion Ocean Reef marina.

With $112 million in the bank, the City of Perth, which has a different ratepayer base from other councils, was one of the most cashed-up, partly because its infrastructure tends to be bigger in scope.

Town of Cambridge mayor Simon Withers said its estimated $41.5 million was "more cash than we've ever had at one time in our history" because of several big projects in the pipeline, including the City Beach redevelopment.

A Department of Local Government spokeswoman said councils facing big costs for future projects often set aside money in a cash reserve.

The West Australian

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