Freo's View

FREMANTLE ADOPTS 2020/21 BUDGET

Posted in budget, city of fremantle, finances, local government, property, Uncategorized by freoview on July 9, 2020

 

There has been a lot of debate in Fremantle and other councils about when a rates increase is or isn’t a real rates increase. It is all quite discombobulated, so I will just copy and paste the media release from the City of Fremantle without any comment:

Fremantle Council has adopted a 2020-21 annual budget that features no increase in rate revenue and a freeze on the majority of fees and charges.

The decision to maintain rate revenue at the same level as the previous financial year was made in recognition of the financial impact of COVID-19 on ratepayers and the business community.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the 2020-21 budget was developed in an environment unlike any other in living memory.

“The tremendous public health, social and economic upheaval created by the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all in ways that we could not have imagined a short time ago,” Mayor Pettitt said.

“We know there are many Fremantle residents and businesses that have taken a big financial hit as a result of COVID-19, which is why we’ve chosen not to have any increase in rate revenue.

“We’ve also adopted a new hardship policy to provide relief to ratepayers facing financial stress.

“It must be remembered that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the City’s finances as well. We estimate we will lose about $4 million in revenue in 2020-21 from things like parking and commercial rents.

“That means we’ve have had to make some very tough decisions to tighten our belts and choose to focus on the provision of core services and the delivery of our capital works program.

“The council will monitor this position during the year to ensure any improvement is delivered back into community services or recovery projects to support our community.”

Mayor Pettitt said the situation with rates had been made more complicated by this year’s revaluation of properties by the state government’s Valuer General.

“While the City has committed to no overall increase in rate revenue this year, individual rates notices may go up or down depending on the change in the Gross Rental Value of specific properties,” Mayor Pettitt said.

“Almost three quarters of Fremantle ratepayers will see their rates notice for 2020-21 either stay the same or go down compared to last year’s rates bill. Ten per cent will see an increase of less than two per cent, and 16 per cent of ratepayers will see their rates go up by more than two per cent.

“Some commentators have argued that because on average GRV’s have gone down rates should go down by the same amount, but that’s a misunderstanding of how rates are calculated.

“Every year councils work out how much revenue is required to provide the services and facilities the community needs, and then calculate the rate-in-the-dollar based on that.

“This year because on average GRV’s in Fremantle have gone down by about 10 per cent the rate-in-the-dollar has gone up by 10 per cent, but the amount of revenue collected will stay the same as last year.”

Despite the financial impact of COVID-19 the 2020-21 annual budget still includes funds for a substantial capital works program, including:

  • Completion of Walyalup Civic Centre and Library
  • New Kings Square play space
  • Public realm upgrades at Newman Court and Kings Square
  • Fremantle Golf Course, club house and community facility
  • Fremantle Markets building works
  • Arthur Head conservation works
  • Container Deposit Scheme refund point at Fremantle Recycling Centre
  • New Fremantle Park car park

In addition to adopting the 2020-21 annual budget at a special meeting last night, the council also endorsed a new Financial Hardship Policy.

The policy was developed to assist ratepayers that may be experiencing financial hardship and require a different approach to paying outstanding rates and service charges.

The support offered under the policy includes the City accepting reduced payments and establishing an alternative payment plan, pausing the payment of rates, administration fees and charges, ceasing penalty interest for up to six months and suspending debt recovery action.  

For more information on how local governments calculate rates please visit the Council Rates Explained page on the WA Local Government Association website.

DETAILS OF WALYALUP CIVIC CENTRE FINANCES

 

This Wednesday’s FPOL Committee of Fremantle Council will address some items concerning the Annual Electors Meeting, which was held early this year. This one concerning the finances of the new Walyalup Civic Centre. Below an edited version of the agenda item.

This report considers a motion moved at the Annual General Meeting of Electors on 9 March 2020 which recommended that:

It is proposed that the City of Fremantle engage the Auditor General to conduct a Post Investment Review of the construction of the new Civic Administration building in Kings Square, and provide a public report as to whether it has been implemented in accordance with the approved 2012 Kings Square Business Case, and whether the $50 million project investment has been in the best interest of Fremantle ratepayers.

The report should highlight any differences between the 2012 Business Case, as approved by Council, with particular focus on the following:

  • Has the total cost of the Admin building been constrained to the cost stated in the 2012 Business Case, including all cost associated with the projects dating back to the approval of the Business Case by Council in early 2013?
  • Has the City of Fremantle been successful in delivering on its financial risk management strategy, where it clearly stated that all cost over-runs would be managed via a fixed price contract for the building construction, where the contractor would be liable for cost overruns not the City of Fremantle?
  • Was the Admin building funded via Project Financing, as clearly stated in the 2012 Business Case, whereby the project would not require funds to be drawn from the City’s other sources of financing. In other words, was any debt associated with the project ring-fenced to the project itself rather than putting an additional debt burden on Fremantle ratepayers?

The Kings Square Business Plan was prepared for Council and publicly advertised in the second half of 2012 and adopted by Council in February 2013. The Plan provided the following costs for the construction of the new civic building;

Civic Centre and Library $16,779,883

Administration $27,564,642

TOTAL $44,344,525

These costs included demolition, base build and fit-out.

When budgeting for these works in subsequent years the City applied the Consumer Price Index (Perth) increases to the figures used in the original Plan. These were applied as follows;

Year

2014/15: $45,807,894

2015/16: $46,357,589

2016/17: $46,589,377

2017/18: $46,915,502

In late 2017 the City awarded a contract for the demolition of the former civic building and in late 2018 awarded a contract for the construction of the new civic, library and administration building and more recently a contract for additional furniture not contained in the construction contract. These amounts were for;

Demolition $ 2,383,743

Civic, Library, Administration $43,461,128

Additional Fit out/Furniture* $ 661,000

TOTAL $46,505,871

*(Not included in construction contract).

The project has been funded through reserve funds generated from the sale of property and debt funding as described in the Plan as below;

Reserves $29,550,000

Loan $20,000,000

TOTAL $49,550,000

Council meetings are in situ again and open to the public at the North Fremantle Community Centre, starting at 6pm.

Roel Loopers

 

CITY FAST TRACKS LEISURE CENTRE NEW POOL ROOF

Posted in budget, city of fremantle, local government, swimming, Uncategorized by freoview on May 9, 2020

 

The City of Fremantle will fast track the replacement of the Leisure Centre pool roof with a budget increase of $ 186,000, so that the work can be done whilst the centre is closed due to the Covid-19 restrictions. There was $ 90,000 allocated in this year’s budget for it, but savings from other projects will make up for the additional money required.

Increase P-11670 Leisure Centre Pool Roof budget by $186,900 to progress the construction of the replacement roof more quickly whilst the Fremantle Leisure Centre is closed due to COVID-19 restrictions funded from the following projects:

* Purchase plant and equipment ($5,900) savings
 * Rockwall Port Beach ($5,000) net savings – expenditure reduction of $10k and grant income reduced by $5k
 * Fleet management system ($7,000) savings
* Purchase road sweeper ($6,200) savings
* Design and construct – McCabe St ($7,800) savings
* Purchase gang mower ($10,500) savings
* Lefroy tip fence ($19,000) project postponed
* Parks Irrigation ($28,000) savings due to reduced scope in project
* Rennie Cres car parking ($97,500) project postponed in order to prioritise Leisure Centre pool roof

 

Roel Loopers

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FREMANTLE LOSES OUT ON $ 2 MILLION IN RATES ANNUALLY

 

When the Western Australian state government complains about the unfairness of the GST distribution, they might want to also have a think about the unfairness to some local governments, like Fremantle, regarding the local council rates exemptions for all kinds of institutions.

It costs the City of Fremantle estimated over $ 2 million annually, which is a big amount for a city with a small ratepayers’ base. We don’t know the exact figures because the Valuer General’s office does not provide councils with property values where there is no need.

But according to City of Fremantle figures we lose out on $ 707,000 from Notre Dame University, $ 210.544 from crown properties, $ 98,992 from places of worship, $ 24,085 from schools/educational, $ 630,819 from charities and $ 54,846 from others/written law/acts.

The above figures are not complete as they do not include the large TAFE site in Beaconsfield and others which are exempt from paying local government rates. The City also does not get rates from Fremantle Ports.

So maybe it is time the State Government compensated affected local councils for state laws that financially disadvantage them considerably.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE GOVERNANCE COST TRANSPARENCY

Posted in budget, city of fremantle, finances, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on July 31, 2018

 

Governance

 

I always try to keep the words balance and respect in mind when I publish a blog post, so I am happy to now post the reply by the City of Fremantle here in regard to the question I asked on the weekend about what the GOVERNANCE expenditure in the budget was for. Here it is:

Regarding what is included in the $47 million figure under ‘governance’ in the capital expenditure chart in the rates booklet – the vast majority of that ($46.3 million) is the allocation towards the new Kings Square administration and library building.

It also includes $504,500 towards the purchase of our current admin building from the Dockers and $105,000 for the new parking app.

The rest is for things like office furniture, telecommunications equipment, IT equipment (like PC’s, tablets, printers and accessories) fixed and wireless internet etc.

 

Roel Loopers

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FREO’S $ 47 MILLION GOVERNANCE COST

Posted in budget, city of fremantle, finances, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on July 28, 2018

Governance

 

Two very large sums of expenditure  in the budget for the City of Fremantle, but what really is governance?

Employee costs are a whopping $ 37,809.270 but then there is also $ 47,083.216 costs for governance.  Surely our 13 Elected Members don’t get that much, so what is the money for, or is it just a way of hiding more staff costs?

Please explain CEO Phil StJohn. Thank you!

 

Roel Loopers

 

Henty's

 

FREO’S ONE PLANET GREEN BUDGET

Posted in budget, city of fremantle, economy, environment, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on July 25, 2018

 

This will start the tongues wagging of those who are not happy with the ‘Greenies’ running the City of Fremantle. ; >)

This from the city on the budget:

The City of FremantIe is delivering on the One Planet Fremantle strategy through initiatives funded in its 2018-19 annual budget.

The centrepiece of the budget is the allocation of $46.3 million towards the construction of the City’s new administration building and library, as part of the broader Kings Square Renewal project.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the aim was to make the new administration centre one of the most energy efficient buildings of its size in Western Australia.

“Our target is for the new building to be zero carbon, so it will have a sophisticated automated opening façade system designed to capture Fremantle’s famous sea breezes and enable natural ventilation for most of the year.

“It will have high-performance, well shaded windows to minimise heat loss during cooler periods and minimise heat gain in summer.

Other sustainability features will include a 240kw solar PV system, energy-efficient LED lighting and water saving appliances.

Another key sustainability measure in the 2018-19 budget is the allocation of $920,000 to implement the new three bin Food Organic Garden Organic (FOGO) waste management system.

The new FOGO system is a key step towards achieving the City’s One Planet target of a 70 per cent community recycling rate by 2020, and will also protect ratepayers from long-term increases landfill costs.

The budget also includes:

$50,000 to purchase carbon offsets to maintain carbon neutral status
$40,000 to implement the verge garden scheme
$32,784 for a new cardboard and aluminium bailer for the Fremantle Recycling Centre
$14,000 to provide Living Smart sustainability workshops
$10,000 to introduce a local container deposit scheme at three Fremantle Primary Schools
$12,000 to install solar panels on community buildings
$10,000 to implement a car share scheme
$30,000 for works and maintenance in the City of Fremantle Bike Plan
$65,000 to revise the Sir Frederick Samson Park management plan
$102,000 for coastal monitoring and assessment at Port, Leighton and Mosman beaches

For more information on the City’s One Planet strategy visit the One Planet page on our website.

 

Roel Loopers

 

FREMANTLE BUDGETS FOR ROAD IMPROVEMENTS

 

The City of Fremantle budget for 2018-19 includes a $2.5 million program to improve and maintain roads. Major resurfacing works have been scheduled for sections along Hampton Road, Rockingham Road, Lefroy Road, Marine Terrace and High Street.

There will also be works to improve road safety for motorists and pedestrians along Stirling Highway, Marine Terrace and McCabe Street.

All of the road millings that are dug up as part of the resurfacing program will be collected and re-used in other city projects, like the upgraded Recycling Centre and the new Cappuccino Strip carpark.

By using recycled materials the City does not have to buy new limestone road base and does not have to pay to dispose of the stripped road material in landfill, so it delivers a significant saving.

The upgrade of a second section of South Terrace in South Fremantle is also included in the budget, with work on the first ‘node’ at the intersections of South Terrace, Little Lefroy Lane and Sydney Street beginning later this month.

The location of a second ‘node’ is still to be confirmed subject to more community feedback. It involves reducing the width of the road, changing the colour of the road surface and widening the footpath, as well as adding new paving, street furniture and trees.

The changes will encourage drivers to slow down, make it safer for people to cross the street and will increase the amount of alfresco space.The works are designed to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment and will also allow the removal of the much debated and disliked temporary speed humps in that section of South Terrace.

Interesting to note that the budget also includes $25,000 to develop a concept plan to create a new town square in front of the Fremantle Railway Station and upgrade Queen Street

A new town square and the relocation of the bus port has been debated for very many years but the reluctance of the Public Transport Authority to move the bus port further east means the idea has had a few plans drawn up but was never realised. Why there is need for yet another costly concept plan I do not understand. I won’t hold my breath that we will see any changes there soon.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE BUDGET AN INVESTMENT IN THE FUTURE

Posted in budget, city of fremantle, development, economy, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on June 29, 2018

 

Fremantle Council has adopted an annual budget it claims to be the single largest local government investment in the city’s history.

The 2018-19 budget, adopted by the council on Wednesday night, included $46.3 million as the City’s contribution towards the broader Kings Square Renewal project, which includes the development of a new library, civic and community centre, upgrade of public spaces by the City and the redevelopment of the former Myer building, Queensgate building and Queensgate carpark by project partner Sirona Capital.

The 2018-19 budget also includes $920,000 for the roll-out of the new FOGO (Food Organics Garden Organics) waste management system, and $2.8 million to construct the new Fremantle Park Sport and Community Centre.

Residential rates will rise by a modest average of 2.9 per cent, which includes a 2 per cent increase to partly fund the costs of implementing the FOGO system, including the purchase of new FOGO bins.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said  that “It’s a significant achievement that the City has been able to deliver this unprecedented level of investment and keep rate increases low, despite the substantial increases in costs through state government charges like power and water.”

The 2.9 per cent average rate increase is the second lowest since 2000. The lowest was last year’s increase of 1.5 per cent.

Total budget expenditure is $150.1 million, comprised of $57.7 million in capital expenditure, $90.7 million in operating expenditure and $1.7m in loan repayments.

Other budget highlights include:
• $2.5 million road improvement and maintenance program
• $743,000 for more CCTV
• $506,000 to refurbish Cantonment Hill Naval Store
• $250,000 for internal restoration works at the Town Hall
• $110,000 to upgrade the Esplanade Youth Plaza
• $100,000 for further upgrades to South Terrace
• $115,000 on new play equipment
• $25,000 to prepare concept plans for Fremantle Station city square and Queen Street upgrades.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE’S HEALTHY FINANCIAL RATING

Posted in budget, city of fremantle, economy, finances, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on June 22, 2018

 

The financial management of the City of Fremantle was strongly criticised by some in our community when it was rated only 42 by the My Council state government website for 2015/16, so for what it is worth, Fremantle has climbed substantially and was rated 87 for the 2016/17 financial year. It was at 79 in 2014/15.

Roel Loopers

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