Ratepayers pay for the past

Ratepayers pay for the past

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Byford Medical Centre Dr Ivo Buters spoke at council on Monday against the shire’s decision to increase commercial and industrial rates by 22.62 per cent. Photograph — Aaron Van Rongen.

Commercial and industrial ratepayers can expect an 18 per cent increase in rates for the 2018/19 financial year, after council voted this week against an initial increase of more than 20 per cent.

The Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale’s decision to impose an increase of 22.62 per cent was debated on Monday night, with councillors considering the impact the rate increase would have on ratepayers.

The special council meeting was halted twice, firstly to allow councillors to ask questions of the officers about the details of the increase and secondly to allow the Director of Corporate Services, Frazer Sullivan, to re-evaluate the figures for an alternative motion put forward by shire president Michelle Rich.

Councillors Keira McConkey, Dave Atwell, Bill Denholm and Morgan Byas supported Ms Rich’s foreshadowed motion for an 18 per cent increase, while Rob Coales, Dave Gossage and Jacqui See voted against the motion.

Ms Rich said while no one enjoyed rates rises, she could see the light at the end of the tunnel with the proposed increase.

“We are hoping with some of the lobbying we are doing at the state and federal level that we will start to see more funding come into this area,” she said.

“We need help, our communities need help and it shouldn’t be just up to our communities to fund this through rates.”

Ms See said the increase would be a punishment to ratepayers for the errors the shire had made in the past.

“The everyday family is struggling,” she said.

“I do feel the rating for commercial properties should be higher than residential but to fix it in one foul blow is unacceptable… while I understand that these rates are tax deductible, these costs need to be found first before it appears on the tax return.”

Mr Coales mimicked Ms See’s views saying that although he commended the work that had been done by the Director of Corporate Services, he could not support the motion.

“None of us have a crystal ball to can see what will happen in the future,” he said. “We need to look at other options to raise this money other than rates.”

Byford Medical Centre doctor Ivo Buters spoke against the proposed increase with both a public submission and a deputation to council, suggesting instead of a rates increase, the shire should seriously cut cost for unnecessary projects and staff.

“With the proposed increase of 22.62 per cent, my rates would increase from $11787.66 to $14454.03, an increase of 120 per cent over the past 10 years for the same building, same floor space and same amenities,” he said.

“The shire provides essential community services just like my business, but we have not increased our fees and charges by 120 per cent over 10 years… our fee structure has not changed since 2012.”