City advertises proposed rates for community comment
Rate relief for CBD businesses and a focus on overcoming rising costs to deliver citywide service improvements underpin the City of Fremantle's proposed differential rates for the 2022-23 financial year.
Speaking after Fremantle Council's Finance Policy Operations and Legislation committee voted last night to advertise its intentions, Mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge said this year's proposed differential rates had been framed to help the City respond to tough economic times.
A rate rise of 6 per cent (compared with inflation levels at around 7.6 per cent) has been proposed to combat the increasing cost of materials, fuel, machinery, equipment and utilities.
WALGA has forecast that councils can expect most key local government expenses to cost at least 5.7 per cent more than they did last year.
Residents have been encouraged to provide feedback on the proposed differential rates which have been framed to include:
- A decrease in the City Centre Commercial rate reflecting Council's intention to no longer draw the cost of its destination marketing program exclusively from CBD businesses. Instead, this cost would be spread across the whole city in recognition that there is a universal benefit via increased visitation to Fremantle, through the retention of a vibrant retail centre, and that other key destinations outside the CBD are marketed.
- Removal of the nightclub differential rate in recognition of the impacts of COVID-19 on these businesses and that other non-nightclub hospitality businesses also impact on security and cleanliness.
- An increase of around $120 per year on the average homeowners' rate bill, with a focus in the 2022-23 budget on sprucing up Fremantle's suburbs, investing heavily in tree planting and playgrounds and delivering some major infrastructure projects such as South Beach change rooms and a new roof for the indoor pool at Fremantle Leisure Centre.
- A likely increase in staff costs, who have forgone any significant increases over the past three years during COVID.
Mayor Fitzhardinge said the upcoming City of Fremantle budget will focus on delivering benefit to residents throughout the city.
“Nobody likes a rate rise but we are determined to tackle challenges that, if left alone, will only become bigger and become more expensive problems down the track,” Mayor Fitzhardinge.
“We all love living in a historic and heritage city, but that means we leave huge problems for future generations if we don’t keep up with maintaining our assets.
“At the same time, our budget is being designed to deliver maximum value in the places where it’s needed most – our parks, playgrounds, footpaths and roads.
“Having delivered a major rejuvenation of the Fremantle city centre – a catalyst for significant investor confidence and growth that is already showing benefit – we are firmly focused on also making a difference in our suburbs.
“We are planning a raft of projects that respond directly to community requests, all over the city, as well as preparing to welcome back with open arms interstate and international visitors.
“The return of tourism, including cruise ships later this year, will provide a welcome boost for all our businesses and has flow-on benefit throughout our community.
“While the City relies on rates to fund the many services and programs our residents and visitors expect and enjoy, we are also considering other revenue sources in areas such as commercial leasing, parking and from facilities such as Fremantle Arts Centre to ease the pressure on ratepayers and secure our financial future.”
Full details of the proposed differential rates can be found at fremantle.wa.gov.au/budget-finances-and-annual-reports.
Submissions by electors or ratepayers on the proposed rates and any related matters must be made in writing and received by the City by 5pm on Tuesday 7 June.
Submissions can be delivered in person to the Walyalup Civic Centre, by email at email@example.com, or by mail addressed to the Chief Executive Officer, PO Box 807, Fremantle WA 6959.