Wanneroo council agrees to rates concession of about $2.7m

More ratepayers are set to benefit from the City of Wanneroo’s decision to give a concession to some properties, which as a result of the higher rate in the dollar, would have received a higher rates charge.

AFTER facing significant backlash the City of Wanneroo has adopted the rate in the dollar it advertised back in May but agreed to also compensate some ratepayers with a one-off Covid-19 rates concession.

At an extraordinary special council meeting on Monday, July 20 the majority of councillors voted for the one-off rate concession, which the council said would result in 99.25 per cent of residential and 95 per cent of commercial-industrial properties paying the same or lower rates than in 2019-20.

The officer’s report presented to the council said the one-off rates concession to “achieve visibility of a 0 per cent increase on an individual rate notice” would cost the council about $2.7 million.

The concession is to be applied to each individual property [residential and commercial- industrial gross rental value (GRV) improved], which has had no change or reduction in its GRV valuation but as a result of the higher rate in the dollar, would receive a higher rates charge than that received in 2019-20.

The report said residential improved category concessions would be applied in $50 increments to achieve a 99.25 per cent target covering all properties with valuations that were lower or had no change from 2019-20 at an estimated cost of $2.m and commercial improved category concessions would be applied in $50 increments for the first 20 groups and then $250 increments for the rest to achieve a 95 per cent target covering all properties with valuations that were lower or had no change from 2019-20 at an estimated cost of $700,000.

This compares with the city’s earlier rate in the dollar proposal outlined in Proposed Wanneroo rates could see some pay more on May 23 where the city said 36 per cent would have to pay a rate increase, 8 per cent of residential ratepayers would have no change in their rates charges and 56 per cent would have a reduction in rates charges.

On July 20 councillors also voted to keep the minimum residential rate at the 2019-20 amount of $988 and for the commercial-industrial improved category a minimum of $1344.

They also approved a new installment payment option allowing ratepayers to pay over five intervals during the year to provide cashflow relief by spreading the payments such that the final payment was due in May 2021.

As part of the rate setting process, the state government issued a Ministerial Order, on May 8, which imposed an amendment to section 6.51(3) of the Local Government Act 1995 amending the maximum interest a local government can charge on outstanding rates at 8 per cent and under section 6.45(3) of the Actthose on installment options to 5.5 per cent as long as the local government has a hardship policy in place.

Last night the city agreed to introduce a lower interest rate charge of 5 per cent down from 8.45 per cent for outstanding rates and 3 per cent for those on installment options, down from 5.5 per cent.

On July 5 in City of Wanneroo reviewing its rates after backlash the city said it was reassessing all aspects of its 20-21 Budget, including the proposed rates in the dollar it would charge ratepayers and all related community feedback.

In April the city had agreed to the McGowan Government’s request for local governments to freeze their rates due to the Covid-19 pandemic subject to no change in valuations.

But as Yanchep News Online reported in Reduced GRVs a new headache for councils on April 16 metropolitan gross rental values (GRVs), which are used by councils when setting their rates, had been on average reduced by 13 per cent.

When ratepayers realised the city intended to increase its rates in the dollar so as to allow it to collect overall what it had collected from ratepayers the year before many demanded the city honour its promise to freeze rates.

When the city advertised its rates in the dollar and minimum rates it received 594 submissions, of which it said 448 were ratepayers submissions, 58 were non-ratepayer submissions and 88 were excluded as they were duplicate submissions.

Some ratepayers took their complaints to Wanneroo MLA Sabine Winton who raised a grievance in State Parliament on June 18 with Lands Minister Ben Wyatt.

Mr Wyatt said the GRV of 95.3 per cent of all properties in Wanneroo would reduce from July 1.

He said the reduced GRVs were not a surprise to the city as the valuer general had provided all metropolitan local governments with an indication of the anticipated reduction in rates back in February.

“I note that some councils may not like the fact that property values have decreased,’’ he said.

“That impacts my budget, too (but) it is their rates and their decision and whether those councillors pass the cuts on to ratepayers is solely in the hands of local governments.’’

Ratepayers Michelle McIntyre and Leah Beedham had set up a Facebook page called City of Wanneroo Ratepayers – Against the Rate Increase and on June 30 they presented a petition with 1893 signatures to the city – the officer’s report said 406 had been identified as City of Wanneroo residents but did not indicate how many were ratepayers.

Last night the councillors also approved a Covid-19 economic recovery package and a Covid-19 community response and recovery package (worth a combined total of $1.4m) and an extra $500,000 for the city’s existing financial hardship policy.