Clash over rates, ser­vices

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By JON BAS­SETT

CLARE­MONT Coun­cil is in­volved in a spat with Cottes­loe MLA Colin Bar­nett about whether the Town’s ratepay­ers are pay­ing more for less ser­vices with their rates.

“It is a re­flec­tion on the stan­dard of de­bate in State Par­lia­ment that a mem­ber can den­i­grate a coun­cil (and) as­sert its ratepay­ers are ‘ prob­a­bly pay­ing hun­dreds of dol­lars more than they should’ on the ba­sis of an in­ter­jec­tion,” Cr Bruce Haynes said last week.

De­bat­ing coun­cil merg­ers in Par­lia­ment on Septem­ber 10, Mr Bar­nett said rates for his house in the 10,000-res­i­dent Town of Clare­mont were $2600 be­fore Deputy Premier Kim Hames said it would be $1200 in the 200,000-res­i­dent City of Stir­ling.

The Gov­ern­ment has al­ways claimed larger coun­cils are more ef­fi­cient dur­ing its on­go­ing, five- year at­tempt to merge coun­cils.

“Do I get over twice the ser­vice of the peo­ple of Stir­ling? I don’t think so!” Mr Bar­nett said.

“My con­stituents are prob­a­bly pay­ing hun­dred of dol­lars more than they should,” he said. “They are start­ing to re­alise that too.”

How­ever, Clare­mont sub­se­quently cal­cu­lated that Mr Bar­nett’s rates would be $2589.95 in Stir­ling, and the smaller coun­cil was spend­ing more than the av­er­age for coun­cils on roads.

A mea­sure to show how well a coun­cil can gen­er­ate cash to re­pay what they bor­row show Clare­mont’s debt ser­vice ra­tio was 10.98, com­pared to Stir­ling’s 0, when a level of 2.0 or higher is con­sid­ered ba­sic and greater than 5.0 is ad­vanced.

Other com­par­isons looked at the op­er­at­ing sur­plus ra­tios of the two coun­cils – Clare­mont (0.27), Stir­ling (0.0913) – that re­quires a level of more than 0.15 to be con­sid­ered ad­vanced.

Cr Haynes said the com­par­isons showed why Clare­mont had “slightly higher rates”, why both coun­cils were sus­tain­able, but they could not be used to sus­tain the Gov­ern­ment’s ar­gu­ment that larger coun­cils would pro­vide “economies of scale”.

A spokeswomen for Mr Bar­nett said he had no com­ment on the fig­ures.

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