Mayor defends rate increases
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.