By Claire Ottaviano
THE City of Swan is bucking the trend by keeping residential rates at a zero per cent increase in 2021/22.
Most metropolitan local government areas, including the City of Kalamunda and Shire of Mundaring, opted not to repeat last year’s COVID-induced rates freeze in favour of increasing the rate in the dollar.
The City of Swan’s rate in the dollar for residential Gross Rental Value rated properties will remain at 8.5 cents, the same as 2020/21.
While the budget was adopted as advertised and without discussion at Wednesday night’s ordinary Council meeting, a debate over Council’s clothing expenses fired up councillors.
Cr Ian Johnson moved a motion to strip councillors of their $500 annual clothing allowance ($750 for the deputy mayor and $1000 for the mayor) because he said the City needed to save on expenses and the cost wouldn’t be supported in a court of public opinion.
The majority of Council disagreed, opposing the motion 12/3.
“We need to be saying to councillors and potential candidates we value what you do for this community,” Cr Andrew Kiely said.
“Not everyone has the money when they’re elected to go out and buy the clothing that is required for this job.”
Deputy mayor David Lucas said of $16,000 allocated to the budget for clothing in the past two years, less than $2500 had been spent.
There is also no increase this financial year to councillor’s meeting attendance fee of $31,364 (mayor $47,046).
The mayor also receives an additional allowance of $88,864 and the deputy mayor, $22,216.
The budget delivers an extensive Capital Works Program of $181.4 million, which includes $103 million for roads, bridges and footpaths, $54.4 million for building construction and works and $10 million for parks and reserves.
Highlights of the Capital Works Program include the construction of Ellenbrook Leisure Centre and Stock Road upgrade, two of the City’s largest building projects to-date.
Revenue from residential ratepayers will make up $137.3 million or about 57.9 per cent of the City’s total rate revenue.
Other revenue comes from fees and charges, interest earnings, grants and government contributions.
The household waste charge is increasing by $14 to $436 per rateable property.
Mayor Kevin Bailey said Swan residents were still recovering from the impacts of COVID-19 and the Wooroloo and Gidgegannup bushfires.
“The City’s 2021/22 budget provides a platform for stable and sustainable growth, while delivering essential services and infrastructure in an important time of recovery,” he said.
“Although we continue to face challenging times with an ever-changing landscape due to the pandemic, much has been achieved through careful financial management.”
The City is continuing to support bushfire-affected ratepayers, with rates concessions and waiving of building and planning application fees.
See the Shire of Mundaring’s 2021/22 rates decision here
And City of Kalamunda Kalamunda here