Small cut to rate rise

TAXES: The Whyalla City Council have approved an amended 3.5 per cent rate increase in their 2019-2020 Annual Business Plan and Budget, down from the 4 per cent rise proposed in the draft budget.
TAXES: The Whyalla City Council have approved an amended 3.5 per cent rate increase in their 2019-2020 Annual Business Plan and Budget, down from the 4 per cent rise proposed in the draft budget.

The Whyalla City Council have approved an amended 3.5 per cent rate increase in their 2019-2020 Annual Business Plan and Budget, down from the 4 per cent rise proposed in the draft budget.

It comes as council act to offset an unexpected increase in the state government's solid waste levy, which has seen a number of councils around South Australia increase their proposed rates for 2019-2020.

The official budget was approved by elected members at a special council meeting on Monday night.

Council have scrapped funding increases for their community grants program, the uneARTh Festival, City Growth Scoping project and tourism signage replacement to achieve the lower rate rise.

While the council have achieved a lower rate rise, other fees and charges have been increased as a result of the levy, including an additional $5 per year rise in annual services charges and $1.50 rise in the gate price at the Mount Laura Waste and Resource Recovery Centre.

CEO Chris Cowley said council had been listening to residents who, during the public consultation period for the budget, had said the proposed 4 per cent rise was too high.

Mr Cowley said the 3.5 per cent rate rise will 'set the city on a manageable financial path that will ensure all Council services and assets are maintained and improved in line with the Long Term Financial Plan'.

"We've been there for the community over the past couple of years with a zero and 2.5 per cent rate rise but assets don't get any younger and roads don't get any better which means we can't keep absorbing CPI rises and the cost of maintaining and improving our city with such modest or nil rate rises," he said.

"Residents are advised there is a quarterly payment system available. Senior ratepayers may also be eligible to apply to Council to postpone payment of rates on their principal place of residence."

Mr Cowley said council were left with no choice but to lift the the annual service charges and gate entry to the dump, but that had been offset by the lower rate increase.

"It is unfortunate we can't increase the funding for some key programs but this is the price we pay for an unexpected State Government rise in costs to the community through the solid waste levy," he said.

Council's Rate Policy and Application forms are available at the Council office.

Enquiries about the 2019-2020 Annual Business Plan and Budget can be made in writing to council@whyalla.sa.gov.au or by calling (08) 8640 3444.