Coun­cil for­goes nearly $1m in rates

South Western Times - - News - Kate Field­ing

NOT-FOR-PROFIT groups could be asked to help cover nearly $1 mil­lion in rates for­gone across Bun­bury.

As Bun­bury City Coun­cil last week en­dorsed a 4.5 per cent in­crease for prop­erty own­ers, ques­tions were asked about the rates ex­empt to­tal nearly tip­ping the mil­lion-dol­lar mark.

A to­tal of 239 char­i­ta­ble prop­er­ties, places of wor­ship or schools across Bun­bury are ex­empt from pay­ing rates, equalling $975,158.

Dur­ing last week’s bud­get meet­ing, Cr Judy Jones raised con­cerns about the fig­ure and asked if there was a plan to ad­dress the lost rates.

“I un­der­stand that these are closely scru­ti­nised ev­ery two years to en­sure that the right peo­ple are get­ting the sub­sidy,” Cr Jones said.

“But given that this is ap­proach­ing $1 mil­lion, does coun­cil have any way of at­tempt­ing to re­dress this par­tic­u­lar in­ci­sion and will the mat­ter be raised at the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Con­fer­ence this year?” Mayor Gary Bren­nan re­sponded that while there was some “grey mat­ter” around what was de­fined as a not-for-profit group, it was a leg­isla­tive re­quire­ment.

Cr Wendy Giles in­di­cated the mat­ter was not on the agenda of the 2017 WA Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Con­ven­tion, which was hap­pen­ing this week in Perth.

Mr Bren­nan told the South Western Times he would con­sider dis­cussing op­tions for those ex­empt to make some sort of do­na­tion, es­pe­cially those that used the city’s in­fra­struc­ture.

“One of the things that I’d like to ex­plore, and I will, is to ask these or­gan­i­sa­tions if they wish to make a vol­un­tary con­tri­bu­tion to the costs of run­ning the city ser­vices,” Mr Bren­nan said.

“I have had some dis­cus­sions but I will be do­ing that in the near fu­ture – say­ing ‘you don’t need to do this, but if you’d like to con­sider mak­ing a con­tri­bu­tion’.

“So the peo­ple who live in those apart­ments or that ac­com­mo­da­tion still use city and lo­cal gov­ern­ment ser­vices, such as roads, li­brary ser­vices, sport­ing fields.

“But they’re not con­tribut­ing to the cost and that’s the whole ba­sis of rates, you will con­trib­ute to the cost through your rates.”

He said res­i­dents did not need to be wor­ried or con­cerned, but should be aware.

“It’s a leg­isla­tive mat­ter . . . this is the way it is,” he said.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment pro­vides grants to lo­cal gov­ern­ments to cover some of the rates for­gone.

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