City plans for 2.95 per cent rate rise

By David Kavanagh | posted on July 12, 2019

ALBANY residents can expect their rates to rise this financial year if the City of Albany’s draft budget for 2019/20 is approved later this month.

Councilors will vote on the budget, which features a 2.95 per cent rate rise and $109.5 million in spending, when they convene for a council meeting on July 23.

In his introduction of the document released last week, Mayor Dennis Wellington described the rate increase as part of the City’s 10-year financial plan.

“The City of Albany continues to work with the cost pressures that an ever changing economic environment presents and with this budget we are pleased to maintain our long-term fiscal strategy,” he wrote.

“[The rate rise] supports the high level of services, facilities and community projects being maintained for our local ratepayers and residents.”

Rates were increased by the same percentage in the 2018/19 financial year.

This was slightly higher than the 2017/18 budget’s 2.5 per cent rise but less than 2016/17’s rate increase of 3.5 per cent.

This year rates are expected to raise $38.4 million in revenue.

An additional $18.1 million will be raised from “fees and charges” which denote things like use of facility fees, charges made for local government services and fines and penalties.

A total $37.5 million will be spent on new projects and the renewal of existing facilities, with around $8 million slated for a coastal enhancement project at Middleton Beach, $7 million for road works and $3 million for developments at Centennial Park.

A further $1.2 million will go to the Pathway Works Program and around $900,000 will be reserved for road drainage.

Albany Heritage Park, the Albany Leisure Aquatic Centre and Albany Airport are also set to benefit.

Just under $1 million will be dedicated to work at the National Anzac Centre and the Park, while ALAC will receive around $300,000 for general improvements and equipment renewal and Albany Airport will get around $270,000.

Roughly 40 per cent of the $69.4 million allocated for “ongoing operational service delivery” will cover employee costs, which include salaries, allowances and other expenses.

Another $2.6 million is slated for debt reduction. Acting Chief Executive Officer Susan Kay said the budget allowed the City to continue delivering projects that boost the economy and create employment, recreation and economic benefits.

She cited the National Anzac Centre, Centennial Park Shopping Precinct, the new Visitor Centre and the Field of Light installation “which injected $17.8 million of visitor expenditure into the Great Southern” as examples of such projects.

“This budget has also ensured capacity to absorb additional cost pressures from external sources such as government changes and contracts to maintain our City’s existing services,” she said.