In April of this year, the City of Wanneroo agreed to develop a budget based on a 0% increase on annual rates for each residential property subject to no change in valuations and City-set fees, including waste services.
In a statement, the City of Wanneroo Mayor, Tracey Roberts said the new budget measures were designed to meet the current and future needs of the Wanneroo community in direct response to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic.
“Next financial year’s budget is unlike any other in the City’s history because we’re facing an unprecedented situation,” Mayor Roberts said.
“In addition, Council has requested the City’s CEO to take into account a six-month moratorium on late payment interest for six months from 1 July to 31 December, as well as implement a reduction in the instalment and late payment interest rates for the balance of the 2020/21 financial year.
The City of Wanneroo surreptitiously published their Proposed Differential Rates for 2020-2021 on 28th May 2020, appearing on their website and Facebook page.
An announcement also appeared in the Wanneroo Times on 22 May, however many ratepayers indicated they did not receive a copy of the newspaper delivered. “Most had no idea this was happening.”
Wanneroo ratepayer and local business owner, Michelle McIntyre, is appalled by the proposal. “I can’t believe the Council would backtrack on the promise made by Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts in April,” Mrs McIntyre said.
Recognising the impact that the community would be facing, the Mayor of Wanneroo promised, “Council will ensure that the City’s Financial Hardship Policy is monitored in line with our COVID-19 response and adjusted if needed.
“People are horrified,” Mrs McIntyre said, “I had no idea about the proposed increases until a friend alerted me… I looked up the City website and found the announcement. I would never have seen it in normal circumstances.”
Concerned local, Leah Beedham joined Michelle McIntyre in starting a Facebook Group for the City of Wanneroo Ratepayers which quickly grew to over 1,000 people in just a few days with over 1,100 signing an online petition to Council requesting a 0% rate increase.
Landcorp Metropolitan Review indicates the sustained property market downturn over the past few years has resulted in an average 13% reduction in Gross Rental Value’s (GRVs), compared to the existing values which were determined in 2015. The GRV is how local authorities calculate rates.
“Our properties have decreased in value, so I can’t understand why Council would break their promise and increase rates when people are experiencing financial hardship due to Covid19,” Mrs McIntyre said.
Mayor Tracey Roberts, who is also WALGA President and a board member of the Local Government Insurance Scheme (LGIS), announced the LGIS Board decision to assist Local Governments to achieve their ambition of a zero-rates increase this year on 17 April.
“It’s inconceivable that the Wanneroo City Council is planning to increase rates when up to $9 million of LGIS funding is available to participating Local Governments next financial year.
The newly formed ratepayers’ association intends to hold the City of Wanneroo accountable for their spending and transparency.
“City of Wanneroo can’t publicly announce something and misguide ratepayers,” Mrs McIntyre said, “The ratepayers of Wanneroo are seeking answers.”
The City of Wanneroo has not made a decision regarding residential rates and invites ratepayers to submit their responses to the proposal before 4pm on Thursday 18 June 2020 via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to the Chief Executive Officer at City of Wanneroo, Locked Bag 1, Wanneroo WA 6946.