Capping a ‘serious issue’
CAPPING rates is emerging as a “serious strategic issue” for local governments in the lead-up to the 2017 WA election, according to WA Local Government Association (WALGA) president Lynne Craigie.
That is despite Local Government Minister Tony Simpson saying last week he that “was not considering the introduction of mandatory capping of council rates”.
The proposal has been simmering since last August when Mr Simpson told the association’s annual general meeting that council rates had increased, on average, more than 8 per cent annually over the past 10 years.
“I am concerned there is a mindset in local government where desired expenditure is determined and then rates set accordingly, rather than working out the council’s potential revenue first and then setting expenditure,” he said.
“Just as State and Federal governments have been, local governments need to examine whether their expenditure is aligned to community expectations and represents the best value for money.” I am concerned there is a mindset in local government where desired expenditure is determined and then rates set accordingly
Mr Simpson said it was not his intention to place an arbitrary cap on council rates.
“But I want to place the sector on notice that it needs to engage with the government about policy options to put downward pressure on rates,” he said.
WALGA remains concerned the issue could flare up again, with the association discussing it with Mr Simpson and Opposition local government spokesman David Templeman last month.
“Following the introduction of a rate capping regime in Victoria, the issue now presents as a serious strategic issue for local government in the lead-up to the 2017 State Election,” a WALGA report said.
“The Opposition advised that they have not formalised a position on rate capping and will be reviewing the Victorian system.
“The Minister advised that he has reviewed the Victorian system and is keen for local governments to find ways to limit rate increases.”
Ms Craigie said while Mr Simpson might not be considering it at the moment, “we will be seeking all parties to provide their formal commitment against the introduction (of) rate capping as part of their 2017 State Election platform”.