Residents have shared outrage at the City of Armadale’s decision to raise council rates by 1.8 per cent, despite a concerted effort to prevent what have been described as a ‘debilitating rate level.’
Hilbert resident Peter Shanavas canvassed almost 200 local residents in the lead-up to the council’s decision on the rate increase and presented a petition at the ordinary council meeting on June 25.
He said council largely ignored the appeal.
“A soft copy of the petition has been forwarded to the city’s mayor, CEO and one of the councillors,” he said.
“The petition was presented on the Monday ordinary meeting and has been forwarded to the strategy committee without any discussion.
“The strategy committee has given the green light to the current proposal without any changes.
“I was present in both committee meetings and totally disappointed with the decision.”
Armadale’s 2017/2018 average council rates were $1,948.65 per household, markedly higher than surrounding cities such as Gosnells and Canning.
Mr Shanavas said he had taken an active approach in protesting rate rises as he saw how they were affecting low-income families.
“A 1.8 per cent increase would be reasonable if we had a decent rate now, but I believe the City of Armadale has the highest rates and the highest crime rate in WA,” he said.
“We have been paying higher rates compared to nearby councils, nearly 32 per cent higher than Gosnells and 13 per cent to Cockburn.
“We can’t afford any rates increase that has a direct impact on low income-earning families.
“They might be forced to reduce their bread to nothing.”
City of Armadale Mayor Henry Zelones acknowledged how rates could adversely affect low-income earners, but said the City had taken a concerted effort over a number of years to reduce rate increases year by year and a freeze on rates would “neither be responsible, nor sustainable”.
“We are always trying to manage our budget and provide what our community wants now, as well as what they will want in 10 years’ time.
“This is no easy task, especially given the sheer number of people coming into the city,” he said.
“We are trying to mitigate costs where possible whilst also providing the high level of service the community demands.
“If the City did not have to deliver large-scale projects or provide facilities and infrastructure for our community, costs for ratepayers would be kept to a minimum.
“However, our community is telling us they want access to modern facilities, attractive parks and quality active sports areas.
“These measures come at a cost.”
Armadale’s 2018/2019-rate increase was marginally lower than previous years, which capped recently in the 2015/2016 budget at 5.2 per cent.
Mr Zelones also said rates needed to be kept in relation to increasing costs, including a seven per cent increase in electricity and a 5.5 per cent increase in water charges.
He also argued the increased would be offset by the lowering of specified area rates in residential areas and the lack of increase in the domestic rubbish charge.
“There are a multitude of factors that come into play that determine rates and it is not as simple as comparing one Council with another,” he said.