Rate rise in budget

TAX: Whyalla City Council have included a proposed 5 per cent rate rise in their draft budget.
TAX: Whyalla City Council have included a proposed 5 per cent rate rise in their draft budget.

The Whyalla City Council has prepared a draft budget and public consultation brochure based on a proposed 5 per cent rate rise.

The agenda for the Audit Committee meeting on Tuesday, May 15 states that the increase is based on a 2.3 per cent Consumer Price Index increase and a further 2.7 per cent increase.

According to CEO Chris Cowley this increase results in an average annual increase of $60 per property, though the actual cost may be more or less depending on the movement in the capital value of each property.

There are additional costs in the budget, including a fixed charge increase from $438.70 to $550, an increase in the Waste Management service charge from $323.25 to $338, and a rise in the Natural Resource Management Levy from $853,324 to $882,694.

A recommendation to endorse the Draft 2018/19 Annual Business Plan and Budget and Long Term Financial Plan, and that council release it for public consultation, was carried unanimously at the Audit Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Mayor Lyn Breuer said a rate increase would allow council to continue a number of projects around the city focused on improving infrastructure and beautifying the town.

“From a community perspective we have to be responsible in ensuring we have the right rates level to cover these projects,” she said.

“I would support a 5 per cent rate rise because we seriously need to be able to continue our projects. The impact to households would likely be minimal.”

Some of the key council projects in the budget include:

  • City Growth initiatives consisting of a digital strategy including Wi‐Fi hotspots, the promotion of tourism opportunities and the creation of public spaces initiatives ($120,000)   
  • Shared/Bicycle path 620 metres to link all schools with safe cycle paths ($117,000)
  • Stormwater drainage works at McLennan Ave, Wall St, and Lincoln Highway ($281,000) 
  • $3.9 million will be spent on the road network and $357,000 is proposed for footpaths
  • Stage two of our signage program to improve the road navigation of our City ($102,000) 
  • Strengthening the Marina breakwater ($136,000)

In the minutes of the Audit Committee meeting it is noted that Councillor Colin Carter ‘expressed concerns regarding the proposed 5 per cent rate increase and would like to keep the increase at CPI or no greater than 2.5 per cent’.

It also noted that Councillor Tim Breuer ‘expressed concerns relating to the 88 per cent asset sustainability ratio not falling within the range of between 90 – 110 per cent, and therefore the 5 per cent rate increase is justified’.

Mr Cowley said he asked all of the councillors what their views were on the proposal for a 5 per cent rate increase.

“Without going into detail there are various thoughts around the chamber,” he said.

Cr Carter said he and Cr Tom Antonio thought the the rate rise was ‘unacceptable’

The 2017-18 council budget included a 0 per cent rate after a motion to lower the proposed 1.9 per cent increase was carried near unanimously.

The wider elected body will have to approve the draft budget to go out for public consultation at the next council meeting on Monday night.

A public consultation period will then take place ending on June 12. On June 6 there will be a public presentation of the budget where the community is invited to come along and have their say.

Mr Cowley encouraged the community to use that opportunity to provide feedback on the budget.

Councillors are expected to vote on whether to adopt the rate rise during their June council meeting.