Nedlands plans freeze on rates instead of modest increase

The City of Nedlands’ budget has been thrown into uncertainty after the council voted to advertise a rate freeze instead of 2.5 per cent rise as recommended by staff.

The city will go ahead with a 2.5 per cent increase in rates for vacant lots but will advertise rates unchanged from this financial year for residential properties.

The advertised rate freeze was deadlocked at 6-6 before mayor Fiona Argyle used her casting vote.

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Cr Ben Hodsdon proposed the council advertise the increase to give the community an opportunity to have a say.

“I want to see laneways paved, I want to see underground power, I want to see chemical-free control of weeds. All those things cost money,” he said.

But Cr Andrew Mangano said the council would signal to ratepayers it supported 2.5 per cent if that number was advertised.

“Staff numbers is part of our problem here and all we’re doing if we raise more money is encouraging to have more staff,” he said.

Cr Mangano said there would soon be more properties in Nedlands which, in addition to renovations and rebuilds, would increase the city’s income.

Deputy mayor Leo McManus said the State Government had obtained a triple AAA credit rating due to an increase in royalties and GST income.

“We haven’t got that increase in income. We rely totally on rates. The only way we can get any more income to get underground power is to make sure we keep some sort of semblance with inflation,” Cr McManus said.

Cr Rebecca Coghlan said she “had a conscience” and didn’t want to burden ratepayers.

“There are a lot of people in the City of Nedlands who are not on high income,” she said.

Cr Noel Youngman said a 2.5 per cent rise would only be $40 or $50 for the average homeowner.

“It’s less than a dollar a week. It’s not very much when it comes down to it but it will make a difference to our bottom line,” he said.

“We now know there are drainage issues that need rapid attention and then we have underground power. I think 2.5 per cent is a fair number.”

Cr Olinka Combes said no one on council voted against spending $30,000 on bird watering stations.

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