Frustration grows over loss of rates

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Bunbury city councillors have aired frustrations over rate exempt properties, costing ratepayers more than $1 million.
Camera IconBunbury city councillors have aired frustrations over rate exempt properties, costing ratepayers more than $1 million. Credit: Graphic / South Western Times

Bunbury city councillors have aired frustrations over rate exempt properties which are costing ratepayers more than $1 million a year, with one councillor labelling the legislation “disgraceful”.

The comments were made during the council’s debate last week when it voted to accept Access Housing’s application to waive rates on 79 properties worth $102,949 a year.

The loss is on top of the $1 million the council forgoes on not-for-profit properties.

While several councillors argued to not support the latest request, the majority of the council conceded that voting it down would not stand up at the State Administrative Tribunal.

Cr Michelle Steck put forward an amendment to write to Local Government Minister David Templeman – along with Housing Minister Peter Tinley – expressing concern at the “cost shifting” and labelled it disgraceful.

“I believe that it’s time that local government did express itself that this is unfair to us all and WALGA should be advocating on our behalf,” Cr Steck said.

“It is a long time overdue, it’s actually disgraceful.”

The council also voted to have chief executive officer Mal Osborne write to the South West Zone of the WA Local Government Association asking it to advocate for changes.

The issue is one matter being scrutinised under the Local Government Act Review.

Several councillors last week argued that the council should be willing to take the latest application to SAT, while others reasoned that it would be a waste of money.

Mayor Gary Brennan said there was a “high failure rate” of councils appealing similar situations to SAT and he was “not prepared” to spend the community’s money chasing it.

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