East Freo defends big rates rise

A HISTORY of low rates rises for East Fremantle residents is hampering the town’s ability to invest in local infrastructure says the council’s new administrators.

The council’s new strategic community plan has a number of ambitious goals, including increasing sport and recreation facilities, preservation of local heritage and mitigating climate change.

East Fremantle CEO Gary Clark — who took over from veteran CEO Stuart Wearne — says a 6.25 per cent rates rise is necessary to realise the 10-year plan.

“Many local governments are starting to see the consequences of keeping rates low,” he says. “For instance, rate capping is very popular, but they’ve had it in NSW for years, and their local infrastructure is some of the worst in the country.”

During the botched council amalgamation process, WA local government minister Tony Simpson argued larger shires are more cost-effective but East Freo mayor Jim O’Neill says the town fares well compared to its bigger neighbours: “If you were to place a median residential house from East Fremantle into a neighbouring suburb, by comparison you would pay $39 more in Fremantle, $20 more in Melville and $229 in Cockburn,” he says. “Furthermore East Fremantle residential minimum rates are lower than each of our neighbours by $222, $257 and $250 respectively.”

The town’s strategic plan also focuses on parks and playgrounds, the Swan River Foreshore and footpaths and cycleways.

The council aims to keep the rates rise to 6.5 per cent or lower over “coming years”.


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