MELVILLE councillor Nick Pazolli says ratepayers already feeling the pinch from inflation and interest rates are getting hit with excessive rate bills because of lazy budgeting.
Although this year’s budget will be done and dusted by October’s local government elections, Cr Pazolli is focusing his recently announced mayoral campaign on rates and says he’s the only one of the declared aspirants on council arcing up about the mooted 8 per cent increase, which he wants to see closer to 5 per cent.
“Given that the WA Consumer Price Index inflation indicator to March 2023 is reported to be of the order of 5.8 per cent, an 8 per cent increase is in my view excessive, inflationary and an unnecessary example of over-rating,” Cr Pazolli said.
“It is particularly difficult for those ratepayers on limited incomes struggling in the lower socio-economic groups, who often rely on government assistance to make ends meet.”
The City would have to find $3 million to bring the rates down to a 5 per cent increase, but Cr Pazolli says for a start there’s the $228,000 windfall that interest rates have delivered through investments this year, while $1.7m remains unspent in wages.
He says that’s equivalent to the cash surpluses Melville has delivered each year for the last decade.
“Instead of applying any of this estimated ’22/’23 cash surplus in the ’23/’23 budget, the City chooses to place the declared cash surpluses in a Rates Equalisation Reserve…
“However, the council could choose to apply these declared ’22/’23 budgetary savings to the ’23/’23 budget which would reduce ratepayers’ rates increase from 8 per cent to 6 per cent without impacting service deliveries of capital works projects.”
Cr Pazolli said the budget’s investment returns were already being adjusted for the Reserve Bank’s latest .25 per cent interest rate increase and further anticipated increases, which he believes will deliver the council somewhere between $600,000 – $700,000 in the coming year.
He says that makes an 8 per cent increase this year “a decision of choice and not of necessity”.
He wants ratepayers to contact their local councillors and urge them to lower the rates – thus putting some pressure on those he’ll be up against in October.
The council will be meeting to pass the budget this Wednesday (June 28) at 6pm.
by STEVE GRANT