City re­thinks power project charges

Melville Times - - News - Bryce Luff

THE City of Melville could cease col­lect­ing in­ter­est on late un­der­ground power charges and re­fund ratepay­ers what it has pock­eted so far.

Western Power is set to com­mence two un­der­ground power projects – Melville North and Al­fred Cove East – in May.

The util­ity’s plan is to re­move ex­ist­ing over­head in­fra­struc­ture for 1878 cus­tomers be­fore con­vert­ing their homes to the un­der­ground net­work by mid-2019.

Half of the cost will be paid by prop­erty own­ers in both project ar­eas through an un­der­ground power charge in­cluded on rates no­tices, with the re­main­der picked up by the State Gov­ern­ment and Western Power.

In a re­port pre­sented to coun­cil­lors at a brief­ing ses­sion on Tues­day night, fi­nan­cial ser­vices man­ager Bruce Tay­lor rec­om­mended the 4 per cent in­ter­est col­lected on late pay­ments not be ap­plied for 2017-18 be­cause the money was not yet re­quired.

“At the time of the adop­tion of the 2017-18 bud­get, the cash call sched­ules de­tail­ing the City’s fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tions to Western Power were not, and are still not, avail­able from Western Power,” he said.

“This has cre­ated a sit­u­a­tion where un­der­ground power charges out­stand­ing as of Au­gust 28 at­tract in­ter­est, even though the City is not re­quired to pay the first cash call to Western Power un­til later in the fi­nan­cial year.

“Any de­lay to the project may see the first cash call be­ing de­layed un­til early in the 2018-19 fi­nan­cial year.”

Mr Tay­lor said ratepay­ers in the project area who elected to pay in in­stal­ments would have also in­curred in­ter­est on their charges.

“The to­tal amount that re­lates to charges levied for these projects is $8800. These charges will be re­versed if the Coun­cil re­solves to not ap­ply the late penalty in­ter­est,” he said.

“To date, $954,000 has been re­ceived in charges for the projects and the City is ex­pected to have suf­fi­cient funds on hand to meet the first cash call con­tri­bu­tion.”

Melville chief ex­ec­u­tive Shayne Sil­cox said any paid in­ter­est could be cred­ited against fu­ture rates assess­ment ac­counts or re­funded.

Mr Tay­lor rec­om­mended in­ter­est on out­stand­ing charges for the projects be ap­plied as part of the 2018-19 bud­get adop­tion process. The City will vote on his rec­om­men­da­tion on Novem­ber 21.

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