Geraldton mayor blames inflation for rate rise

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
The City of Greater Geraldton has advertised a proposed 1.5 per cent increase to rates.
Camera IconThe City of Greater Geraldton has advertised a proposed 1.5 per cent increase to rates. Credit: Geoff Vivian, The Geraldton Guardian

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn has defended the proposed 1.5 per cent rate rise, stating it will help the City stay in the black.

If adopted by council during its 2019-20 budget deliberations later this year, the proposed increase would be applied across the board.

Mr Van Styn said the budget was currently at a “break-even point” and any changes would impact it.

“All movements, no matter how minor, have a material effect on our operating result,” he said.

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“If the City is not able to pass on the costs of inflation it would result in a reduction of the range and level of services we offer.

“We must maintain income in real terms to ensure financial sustainability for both today and into the future.”

Community members are now able to submit feedback on the City’s proposal, which would set the rate in the dollar for residential properties at 14.8529¢, up from 14.6334¢.

The rate in the dollar for non-residential properties would increase from 12.1117¢ to 12.2934¢.

According to council notes, properties that were not revalued this financial year will pay just 1.5 per cent more in rates than they did in 2018-19.

For Unimproved Value (UV) properties, the proposal would see the rate in the dollar increase from 0.7660¢ to 0.7775¢.

Because UV properties are revalued every year, rate bills may shift by more or less than 1.5 per cent.

However, council notes suggest there is usually no significant movement in the Unimproved Value valuations. The City has also suggested keeping the minimum payment at $1010.

The City’s long-term financial plan originally suggested a 2.5 per cent rate rise.

Chief executive Ross McKim said the City was able to consider a smaller increase because its utilities bills are cheaper, debt costs are lower than predicted and maintenance costs for City infrastructure have dropped.

Mr McKim said the City had no intention of cutting staff numbers or reducing services.

“The challenge will be delivering a balanced budget with the 1.5 per cent,” he said.

Mr Van Styn encouraged community members to make submissions about the proposed rates, minimum payments and any related matters.

“Council takes into account these submissions before they adopt the final rates,” the mayor said.

Council may adopt different rates or minimum payments than what was advertised.

Electors and ratepayers have until 5pm on May 24 to make a submission, either by post or by email.

How are rates calculated?

Properties are valued on their potential earning income if it was rented out, instead of their resale value.

Every three years Landgate determines the annual rental value of a property, known as the Gross Rental Value (GRV).

The value of properties used primarily for rural purposes, such as agriculture, is known as the Unimproved Value (UV), determined every year by the Valuer General.

The GRV or UV is then multiplied by the rate in the dollar, which is set by Council.

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