Proposed 5.2% rate increase

It’s that time of year again, local government rates.

The City of Greater Geraldton has advertised its proposed rates for the 2014-15 Budget as a 5.2 per cent increase.

They are giving the community an opportunity to make a submission and the final decision will be made by the City at a special meeting of council in July.

The City say the proposed rate is consistent with the Long Term Financial Plan adopted by Council in 2013; the maximum rate increase as agreed with ratepayers groups in 2013; and the rate the City advised the community it would be considering 12 months ago.

Rates have been a touchy subject within Geraldton over the last few years.

In 2012, rates were increased by over 27 per cent.

After the huge increase in 2012, it spurred local debate with community group ‘City of Greater Geraldton Ratepayers Demand Change’ forming.

This year the City is proposing a 5.2 per cent rate rise and the community has until June 20th, to give their opinion.

City CEO, Ken Diehm, said the City agreed with ratepayers last year that rates would be kept as low as possible and a proposed 5.2 per cent rise is consistent with the Long Term Financial Plan.

“This was the maximum rate increase as agreed with ratepayers groups in 2013, and what the City advised the community it would be considering 12 months ago,” he said.

“More than 80 people on the two panels worked diligently alongside City staff — who also gave up their time over 12 weeks — reviewing council services and considering where services could increase or decrease.

“This gave people a greater insight into the operations and complexity of running a local government, and I appreciate their dedication. They had a steep learning curve and had to make some tough decisions,” said Mr Diehm.

Over the past few months, the City engaged the community to identify priorities through two randomly selected community panels that were advised to make sure rate increases were no higher than 5.2 per cent.

One panel reviewed the range and level of services the City provides and the other looked at the capital works program. The panels’ recommendations have been accepted by Council and incorporated into the 2014-15 Budget.

In a message from the City Mayor, Ian Carpenter, he said all local governments in Western Australia were facing the difficult challenge of balancing the books on the one hand and the ability to pay for community expectations on the other.

“The City believes the best way to address this challenge is to ask you, the people of Geraldton,” he said.

“Thats why we have undertaken the biggest consultation with community known. We reckon it’s the first time in Australia that any council has done this.

“It’s opened our eye to what is valued by the community.”

The panels produced two comprehensive reports which can be found on the City website , and community members are encouraged by the City to make a submission by June 20 2014 by emailing or posting to City of Greater Geraldton, PO Box 101, Geraldton WA 6531 or filling out an online form

Council will meet to decide and adopt the rate level at a Special Meeting of Council on July 1, 2014. Members of the public are invited to attend the meeting.

In addition, here are the contact details for the City’s Councillors:

Steve Douglas-

Peter Fiorenza-

David Caudwell-

Des Brick-

Laurie Graham-

Jerry Clune-

Jennifer Critch-

Tarleah Thomas-

Victor Tanti-

Bob Hall-

Shane Van Styn-

Neil McIlwaine-

Simon Keemink-

Richard de Trafford-