Rate rise ‘agreeable’

By Chris Thomson | posted on July 12, 2018

A 2.95 per cent residential rate rise, up from last year’s 2.5 per cent increase, has been unanimously endorsed by 10 Albany city councillors.

Acting City CEO Mike Cole said this year’s planned rate rise was in line with the council’s 10-year financial plan.

“It will allow the City to continue its full schedule of capital works, maintain its cur- rent levels of operation to meet the needs of the community, and absorb some cuts to State Government funding for areas such as roads as well as above inflation cost increases in electricity and other utilities,” he told The Weekender yesterday.

Rates for Albany’s rural properties are set to rise by 1.55 per cent.

In the draft City budget, there is no allocation for the 2019 Albany Art Prize, after the 2018 prize cost $62,800 to organise and a 10-year sponsorship deal ended.

“The City is currently exploring opportunities and possibilities for the art prize into the future that provide the best option for the Great Southern’s creative community,” Mr Cole said.

“In the meantime, the City is continuing to support local arts through the Great Southern Art Award, which will be held again in 2019 and has a budget allocation of $20,657.”

In a budget benign for builders, developers, fitness freaks and pet owners, council fees for building and development applications, entry to the local pool and gym, and dog and cat registration will largely stay put.

The City expects to issue $12,120 of fines for Dog Act infringements, but none for stray feline offences.

“Compliance income is difficult to predict, and infringeable laws for dogs and cats do vary,” Mr Cole explained.

“While the City has the power to fine people for not registering, microchipping or sterilising their cats, there are no laws against wandering cats, making it very difficult to enforce.

“While rangers regularly issue infringements for wandering dogs, they very rarely respond to calls about wandering cats and if a cat is picked up without the required identification, the owner is unlikely to be found and infringements for failing to register, microchip or sterilise the cat cannot be issued.”

At a committee meeting on Tuesday night, the draft budget was unanimously endorsed by Mayor Dennis Wellington and nine City councillors ahead of its now-likely approval at the next full council meeting.

Deputy Mayor Greg Stocks dubbed the 2.95 per cent increase “pretty agreeable”.

He said the City was “not beholden” to capping rates at the current 1.9 per cent rate of inflation, as wages growth at the City was higher.

He warned if modest rate increases did not occur every year, ratepayers would be slugged with an “eight-and-a-half to 10 per cent increase” less frequently.

“All power to Mr Cole – good on you!” the deputy mayor enthused.

Mr Cole said the City’s elected officials should be credited as well.