Cap­ping a ‘se­ri­ous is­sue’

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Tim Slater

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

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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”.

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