Mayor de­fends rate in­creases

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Stadiums In The Spotlight - Claremont Oval - By BRYCE LUFF

CLARE­MONT Mayor Jock Barker has been forced to de­fend the Town’s rate in­creases from a po­ten­tial chal­lenger for his po­si­tion.

At a coun­cil meet­ing last Tues­day, Al­fred Road res­i­dent Jonathan Hus­ton queried why, ac­cord­ing to the State Gov­ern­ment’s My­coun­cil web­site, rates had in­creased about 22 per cent over the past five years.

Mr Barker said rates had not in­creased by that much, with My­coun­cil con­fus­ing peo­ple “not fully across what it re­ally means”.

“What it re­ally means is that this Town in that pe­riod of time has re­ceived 22 per cent more in­come,” he said.

“Rates have not in­creased by 22 per cent in five years. Rates have in­creased on av­er­age, over the five years, by 3 per cent.”

Mr Hus­ton, who is “cer­tainly con­sid­er­ing” run­ning for mayor or a coun­cil­lor seat in Oc­to­ber, also asked why the Town was not do­ing more to safe­guard pen­sion­ers from fi­nan­cial pres­sure.

He said some ratepay­ers would strug­gle to pay the 1 per cent rate in­crease be­ing im­posed by the coun­cil in 2017-18.

“I’m con­cerned about the mo­nop­o­lis­tic na­ture of coun­cil,” he told the Weekly af­ter the meet­ing.

“Peo­ple are un­der fi­nan­cial stress, par­tic­u­larly pen­sion­ers,” he said.

“Coun­cils put rates up ev­ery year and you lose that cus­tomer ser­vice.

“Most peo­ple in­ter­act (with the coun­cil) just through waste man­age­ment, with their bins be­ing emp­tied.

“I know coun­cils do more than that but (the in­crease) is still a bur­den on peo­ple who are count­ing their costs down to the dol­lar.”

Mr Barker said the Town was mind­ful of any in­crease to rates and fees but would use the in­come to fund a new un­der­ground power project.

He said the in­crease would also be used to up­grade the Fresh­wa­ter Bay Mu­seum and fund com­pre­hen­sive an­nual works pro­gram.

He added that the Town con­trib­uted more than $100,000 per year to ser­vices for pen­sion­ers and se­niors.

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