Wanneroo rates increase as councillor questions Alkimos pool proposal

Most councillors appeared to agree that council staff and councillors had worked hard to trim the Budget but one councillor says they could have cut more. File picture: Yanchep News Online

MOST City of Wanneroo councillors yesterday voted in favour of a 3.75 rate increase while the one dissenting councillor unsuccessfully called for a review of whether the city can afford the Alkimos pool as it is presently proposed.

Although lower than the 4 per cent increase the city proposed adopting back in May the increase will lift rates revenue to $147.3 million representing an increase of $7.7m from 2021-22.

While voicing their support for the 2022-23 Budget and the 3.75 per cent rate increase the majority of councillors acknowledged that residents were facing financial challenges due to the rising cost of living.

But in summary they appeared to agree the city was also affected by cost increases as well and that staff and councillors had worked through four budget workshops to cut what they could.

South-West ward councillor Vinh Nguyen said as it was a special meeting he could not present a petition signed by 100s of people objecting to the rate increase.

Cr Nguyen said the circumstances and environment facing residents and businesses were now worse than when he had called for rate freezes in the past two years.

He said the council needed “to cut a lot more fat” than it had done so far and there were levers they could consider to achieve a rate freeze.

“We’ve got a massive project that we’ve put in our long-term financial plan and that is the Alkimos pool and that’s expected to cost us $70m,’’ he said.

The proposed Alkimos aquatic and recreation centre is one of the city’s key community projects with $930,000 allocated in the Budget for detailed design of the centre to be undertaken in the new financial year.

During the federal election the former mayor and now Pearce MHR Tracey Roberts promised $25m for the aquatic and recreation centre to go with the $5m promised by Christian Porter when he was a member of the Morrison government.

But Cr Nguyen questioned whether the city really needed a $70m pool.

“We know the community need a pool right,’’ he said.

“(But) $70m for a pool in this climate?

The City of Wanneroo 2022-23 Budget includes $930,000 for detailed design of the Alkimos aquatic and recreation centre to be undertaken in the new financial year.

“All I’m asking is can we review what we can afford – we haven’t even budgeted for the operating expenses yet and we know this is a loss-making project.

“But I’m not suggesting we completely remove the pool.

“I’m suggesting (we) find value in delivering this pool to the community.’’

He also believed the council could find savings relating to waste collection and to how it delivered social events.

But when it came time to vote Cr Nguyen was the only one who voted against the 12-point motion.

North ward councillor Sonet Coetzee said rates made up about two thirds of the city’s revenue.

“Rates are generated to allow the city to continue providing services, facilities and capital works for the community in a financially sustainable manner while providing support and maintaining jobs,’’ she said.

“The city will continue to find savings in operational and capital expenditures over the next year wherever possible.

“The city’s reserves will be used again to support key capital works projects to meet the demand of a growing population especially in the northern and eastern suburbs.’’

But she said it was with a heavy heart that she supported the 3.75 per cent rate increase.

North-East ward councillor Linda Aitken said it was fantastic to have a $235m Budget with only $147m being raised by rates as the city had managed to get grants and use reserves to make up the rest of the money required.

Cr Aitken said $147m divided across all the city’s residents added up to $51 a year, which was less than a dollar a week and that was frugal.

The 2022-23 Budget has also allocated $3.88m for the new cycling facility at Splendid Park in Yanchep, $75,000 for an upgrade to the Two Rocks Volunteer Bushfire Brigade to include the SES, $18,000 to upgrade Mitchell Park in Two Rocks, $1.37m to upgrade roads and service infrastructure in the existing Neerabup industrial area, $3.65m for new sports facilities at Halesworth Park in Butler, $1.36m for a new sports amenities building at Heath Park in Alkimos, $558,409 to upgrade floodlighting at both Splendid Park ovals.

Other Budget amounts include $90,000 for median treatment on Lagoon Dr in Yanchep,  $96,000 for traffic treatments on Sovereign Dr in Two Rocks, $1.17m to upgrade street lighting on Two Rocks Rd from Templetonia Blvd to Lisford Ave and $129,500 to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Jindalee Blvd and Investigator Pde in Jindalee.

The City of Wanneroo’s Budget statement is available here

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