Rate re­form un­nec­es­sary: WALGA

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Street Watch -

LO­CAL Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Tony Simp­son says there is no time­frame for a de­ci­sion on pos­si­ble rate re­form, but the WA Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion has ar­gued the move is un­nec­es­sary.

Mr Simp­son put coun­cils on no­tice when he re­vealed he had asked his depart­ment to “com­mence di­a­logue” with the sec­tor about how it could keep lo­cal gov­ern­ment rates down.

“Part of that dis­cus­sion may be whether there should be a role for an in­de­pen­dent third party to have over­sight of rate-set­ting by coun­cils, such as the Eco­nomic Reg­u­la­tion Au­thor­ity,” he said.

With lo­cal gov­ern­ments rais­ing more than $1.9 bil­lion in rates in 2014-15, Mr Simp­son was con­cerned lo­cal gov­ern­ments were set­ting rates to ac­com­mo­date “de­sired ex­pen­di­ture”.

“Lo­cal gov­ern­ments have in­creased rates by, on av­er­age, more than 8 per cent an­nu­ally over the last 10 years and it is a topic about which I get a lot of cor­re­spon­dence and calls from the com­mu­nity con­cerned about the ex­tent of rate in­creases,” he said.

WALGA pres­i­dent Lynne Craigie said cur­rent bud­get­ing and rat­ing pro­cesses would stand up to scru­tiny, but she did not be­lieve rates cap­ping or fi­nan­cial over­sight would im­prove ser­vices.

“Lo­cal gov­ern­ment is the only sphere of gov­ern­ment that isn’t op­er­at­ing in a mas­sive deficit sit­u­a­tion,” she said

Ms Craigie said crit­i­cism of rates in­creases did not com­pare to swelling state charges, in­clud­ing the Emer­gency Ser­vices Levy (up 10.6 per­cent), street light­ing (up 7.5 per cent) and wa­ter (up 6 per cent).

“Rate cap­ping isn’t good fi­nan­cial man­age­ment. It cre­ates a higher ex­pense in the long run,” she said.

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