Freo's View

FREMANTLE FINANCIALLY SOUND SAYS MINISTER

Posted in city of fremantle, development, economy, finances, Uncategorized by freoview on September 20, 2017

 

I am not a big fan of publishing media releases by Freo City, or anyone else for that matter, but this one about the City of Fremantle’s financial situation is very important, especially during the local government election campaign, where some people claim Freo is going broke because of its investment in the Kings Square Project and selling city assets.

The City of Fremantle has received clarification from the Minister for Local Government over the City’s risk profile.

The City wrote to the Minister, David Templeman, in August after it was identified as being “high risk” in a response to a question in State Parliament.

The City’s risk profile was based on reporting from the 2015/16 financial year, where it recorded an unusually low Financial Health Indicator (FHI) score due a number of factors including a change in accounting methodology.

In his reply the Minister said he accepted information from the City’s auditors that, subject to final audit, the City of Fremantle’s 2016/17 FHI score will restore to approximately 85.

For the MyCouncil website and the Department of Local Government’s risk profile an FHI score of 70 and above indicates sound financial health.

The Minister also said he had asked his Department to review the way it communicates its risk profile process to avoid potential misunderstandings in the future.

CITY OF FREMANTLE FINANCES SOUND

Posted in city of fremantle, economy, finances, Uncategorized by freoview on August 11, 2017

 

A small article in today’s West Australian reported that David Templeman, the Minister for Local Government, had announced that 15 per cent of, or 22 local councils in W.A. were considered to be high risk by the department.

They include the City of Perth, Fremantle, Kalgoorlie, Exmouth, Derby, Carnarvon, etc. but the article did not go into detail as to why these councils are judged to be high risk.

The claim about Fremantle’s finances has been made before, and rejected by the City, but I thought it would be prudent to ask them for a comment. Here it is:

Today’s page 14 newpaper article in The West Australian: ‘More councils high-risk’ has named the City of Fremantle as being identified by the Department of Local Government as ‘high risk’.

The City assumes it was included in this list due to a one-off low Financial Health Indicator (FHI) score for the 2015/16 financial year. The lower than usual score was caused by a combination of factors including a change in accounting methodology used by the City to simplify the way overhead costs are recorded. This change artificially inflated the year-on-year operating expenditure in 2015/16.

With this anomaly addressed in subsequent budgets, the City’s FHI score will normalise back to its long-term healthy trend when the 2016/17 audit is completed.

In previous reports issued by the Department of Local Government the City of Fremantle has not ever been classified as being in any risk category, let alone a high risk.

The City is independently audited each year and no audit has ever indicated any fundamental issues or problems with the City’s medium or long-term financial viability.

I wonder if it should not be a matter of course for the Department of Local Government to notify local councils of their findings and concerns and offer support to them, and clarify how they reached the findings.

 

Roel Loopers

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KINGS SQUARE GAME CHANGER FOR FREO

Posted in city of fremantle, development, economy, kings square, Uncategorized by freoview on June 8, 2017

 

 

 

It is only weeks until the Fremantle Kings Square Project will get started and a new website is under construction to keep us up to date, so check out www.kingssquarefremantle.com

I had a chat about the game-changing project with the very straight-forward and open City of Fremantle Director of City Business Glen Dougal who was very positive about Fremantle’s future and said it was exciting for staff to be part of such a progressive city.

“Can we afford Kings Square? Absolutely, yes! Do we have to budget for it? Yes” Dougal said. “At the start we will take a bit of a hit but we will trade out of that without a doubt.” It is an investment into Freo’s future and the CoF will have to cut its costs for a while. The debts will be written off in ten years.

“The Kings Square Project is not going to send us broke, but we’ll have to invest wisely and prioritise projects. We will cut costs in the right spots while still delivering what the community expects of us.” Dougal adamantly said.

All the development under way and already approved development to come will see a significant and structural change in revenue for Fremantle and improve the bottom-line. CoF could not rely on the fluctuating revenue base it had to work with in the past. “Improving the rate base is a very good outcome.”

The operating budget will end up with many more millions that will increase from 8 to 10 million dollars in ten years that can be used for other projects. It will mean we only have to raise rates at CPI.

Borrowing money from state government for longer would also be a better short-term gain, but the state kept charging local governments more for utilities and also loans while demanding they cut costs. “The state government only allows us to borrow on the operating budget.” said Glen Dougal.

All the new businesses and residents will increase revenue for the City and that is good because parking and other revenue has gone down.

The community will be consulted on the ten-year budget plans and a new 165-bay carpark will be built at the Stan Reilley site next to Fremantle Oval by the end of this year.

The vacant site for the Hilton Doubletree hotel at Adelaide Street will also be converted into a carpark untl the SKS group is ready to start building and a 120-bay carpark next to the Fremantle Tennisclub in Parry Street is also on the cards.

Glen Dougal shrugged off criticism that Sirona Capital might one day sell off their Kings Square properties saying that most investment money was off-shore and that foreign investment in Australia had been happening all around. He pointed out the SKS group who will build the Hilton is foreign money, as are many hotel groups.

It is always refreshing to talk with Glen Dougal because he is a no-nonsense operator who does not play games and does not get involved in politics. He is very matter of fact and professional and had nothing to hide. He showed me stats and graphs on the computer he will present to Council. He was very positive about the vision and strategic planning of Fremantle Council and said under the good leadership of Mayor Brad Pettitt all Councillors could shine.

I walked away from my meeting with Glen Dougal feeling confident about Freo’s future. Nothing in life is perfect and there are no doubt issues at the City of Fremantle and things that need to be improved by the administration, but I personally don’t believe Fremantle could afford not to do the Kings Square Project as traders in the city are in desperate need of economic recovery. Many hundreds of new people residing in the CBD and thousands working here will make a huge difference, and so will tourists staying in the new hotels.

Good leadership is about doing more than just the populist things and the Kings Square, Fremantle Oval, Cantonment Hill projects are huge for our city, as is all the private investment through development  Council has been encouraging. It will create a vibrant modern east end of Fremantle. One day in the distant future and with the help of the WA government we will also see the South Quay Project go ahead.

I am optimistic about Freo’s future and can’t wait for the official opening of Kings Square in about two years from now!

Roel Loopers

NO FREO PORT AND ROE 8 IN SPENDING CHECK

Posted in economy, finances, fremantle, state government, Uncategorized, western australia by freoview on May 15, 2017

I am surprised and disappointed that WA Premier Mark McGowan has not included the cost it has taken to prepare for the sale of Fremantle Ports in the inquiry into the spending of the Barnett Liberal/National government.

A meeting I attended at the Port well over a year ago was told they were spending millions of dollars on lawyers, consultants and experts to make the port ready for privatisation, which will not be going ahead under the new Labor government.

The inquiry announced by the Premier today will be headed by former under treasurer John Langoulant and will investigate 26 projects.

They include: Elizabeth Quay, Perth Stadium and Swan footbridge, land assets sales, Ord River Irrigation Project, Pilbara accommodation, Pilbara underground power project, Ningaloo Centre, Bulgarra sports complex, Wanangkura stadium Port Hedland, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Children’s Hospital, QE II Hospital, Karratha Hospital, St John of God Midland, IT at Department of health, outsourcing of non-clinical services, NurseWest, Muja power station, Synergy billing, Synergy and Western Power contracts, Western Power Woodlands and Vista, Road Safety Commission’s Rugby WA partnership, Buyback Scheme renewable energy, Temporary Personnel Services common use arrangements, Next ICT project.

But not Roe 8 and Fremantle Port and that wonders me a lot. Why were they excluded from the extensive list?

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE INVESTMENT IN THE FUTURE

Posted in city of fremantle, economy, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on May 11, 2017

 

The City of Fremantle’s Audit and Risk Management Committee this week approved the principles of a draft ten year financial plan (2017-2027) which confirms the City has the ability to deliver its portion of the $270m redevelopment of the Fremantle city centre with CPI-based rate increases and without a need for future sale of income generating assets.

The plan confirms the Kings Square city centre renewal project as central to providing a solid financial base for the City of Fremantle and a strong economic future for Fremantle as a whole.

• Reserves to be reinstated to current levels by 2027
• The ability for all debt to be paid off within 10 years of Kings Square redevelopment
• Demonstrates all of the above can be delivered with CPI rate increases
• Recent wave of new investment and developments in Fremantle to deliver an estimated $5m annually to City’s commercial rates revenue by 2022
The long-term plan was also developed to deliver balanced annual budgets and restore reserves to current levels (~$20m) within the ten year period of the plan.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the draft plan included the City’s largest capital works program in its history to deliver a renewed city centre and strengthen the City’s long-term financial position.
“The redevelopment of Kings Square is a major long-term investment in the economic future of Fremantle and the revised financial modelling which includes the latest information on Kings Square costs demonstrates this,” Mayor Pettitt said.

“Before this investment in the Fremantle city centre there was a serious fear Fremantle was on an unsustainable economic trajectory. The City committing to the catalyst Kings Square project in 2013 has renewed investor confidence and has been a major contributor to the $1.3b development boom we now see in Freo.

VACANT SHOPS A MAJOR PROBLEM

Posted in city of fremantle, economy, hospitality, retail by freoview on April 2, 2017

A report in the Sunday Times today shows that the accusations against Fremantle Council not looking after its retailers well enough and that parking problems keep shoppers away are hot air.

The new Perth Labor MP wants a City Summit because of the dire retail economy in the big smoke, which shows Fremantle’s retail problems are neither unique nor to blame on Council.

Of the 950 shops in the Perth CBD 150 are vacant at a 16 per cent vacancy rate. Along Barrack Street and St George’s Terrace a staggering one in five shops are empty, so it does not look well at all.

We know that retailers in Subiaco and elsewhere have also been struggling for years, so this problems is all over the Perth metropolitan area.

Yesterday the West Australian reported that many restaurants are closing in Perth as well and that shows that we need to do more for tourism, conventions, festivals, etc. and can no longer rely on the patchy mining industry that booms and busts often and lacks the stability our retailers and hospitality industry need.

It is unfair to lay blame for the economy on individual local councils as there is clearly a bigger picture at play well outside the power of local government.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE EAST CBD DEVELOPMENT

Posted in city of fremantle, development, economy, hotel, housing, tourism by freoview on March 19, 2017

This photo taken from the top of the Fremantle Townhall on Friday has historic significance for Fremantle as the inner east CBD will look very different in a few years from now with major development plans for the area.

In about five years we will see the new Woolstores shopping centre commercial, hotel and student development by Silverleaf, the Point Street Hilton Doubletree hotel project, and the eight-storey residential development of the former Spotlight building, and just beyond that the residential development next to the Hotel Australia at Beach Street.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE’S SOCIALIST DEVELOPMENT

Posted in city of fremantle, development, economy, lifestyle by freoview on March 14, 2017

 

The LIV Defence Housing residential development at Fremantle’s Queen Victoria and Quarry streets is well under way and will be a great addition to the east end of the CBD.

I find it rather cute that people on the right side of politics keep accusing Fremantle Council of being socialists when this council has done more in thirty years to attract very capitalist development to our city than previous councils.

While some of the new development is disappointing and mediocre it will do Fremantle’s economy and traders a lot of good in the near future to have three new hotels and very substantial residential and commercial development that will bring thousands more people living in the inner city and thousands more working in the CBD.

It will be fantastic for the hospitality and retail industries to have hundreds of tourists staying overnight in Fremantle and shop, dine and drink here, and having locals and students roaming the streets day and night will make it a safer and more lively place.

Roel Loopers

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FREMANTLE’S EXCITING MODERN FUTURE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, economy, retail, shopping, tourism by freoview on March 8, 2017

There was a rather exciting BID-Business Improvement District meeting at the National Hotel on Wednesday evening that spelled out the future of the Fremantle inner city, and I was very impressed.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said it was important that the business community engaged with the City and that they went on the journey together.

Pettitt admitted the next 3 years are going to be challenging for inner city traders because of the disruptions caused by the massive development at Kings Square and elsewhere in the CBD.

The Mayor said it was disappointing that the Hilton Doubletree hotel development on the Point Street carpark site will now only start in the first quarter of next year, so that is another lengthy delay.

The more I see of Gerard O’Brien, the boss of Fremantle developers Silverleaf, the more I like his no-nonsense approach and straight-forward message that Fremantle only has a three-year window before Garden City will more than double in size.

“We need to keep moving as we have suffered big time in Fremantle”, O’Brien said. “We need to get our act together and support each other as a community and Council. It needs to be a team effort!”

Silverleaf has huge plans for Fremantle and O’Brien said that they are only the custodians and want to leave something behind that all of Freo can be proud off, not just a glass box.

O’Brien then revealed his plans for the Woolstores shopping centre site and that is very exciting for Fremantle. The development is 26,000 square metres.

There will be an Adina Hotel, commercial floorspace and -hallelujah!- student accommodation! Plus a shopping centre at ground level and underground parking.

Coles will keep trading during the construction period and Gerard O’Brien believed that was essential to keep attracting shoppers into the inner city.

O’Brien said the design of the building pays tribute to the heritage and pays homage to the environment the new building will be in.

I quite like the old&new architecture with red bricks at ground level and vertical cladding similar to the new Perth library and theatre buildings, while the levels above that are very modern, but quite striking and minimalist.

The entire roof will be solar panels, which O’Brien said was a good investment, while the windows will be double-glazed and have new technology in them that will keep out the sun and keep the interior cool. I am impressed!

Silverleaf will also be developing “ the beautiful piece of history” former police and courthouse complex and Warders Cottages at Henderson Street into three-star history tourist accommodation with 64 rooms. It will also have a market place open space and four different concepts that are all about tourism.

New BID CEO Tim Milsom said the transformation of Fremantle is about to happen and that Silverleaf could develop anywhere in the world but chooses to do so in Fremantle.

Milsom said BID have plans for a creative hub and an aspirational business mix but O’Brien said that Fremantle has enough specialty stores.

Milsom said we need to find out from the community and visitors what is missing in Fremantle and what will bring people back. For example there is no hardware store in Freo anymore.

There is no bakery or butcher or corner deli in the CBD either, but more than a dozen new shops will open in Fremantle soon, so that is more good news.

Many 6160 are moving from the former Myer building at Kings Square to the former Spotlight building next to Target and are due to open next week.

I put my neck on the line and say that this is very good news for Fremantle and that we are on the right track to create a great vibrant city where hundreds of tourists will stay over night, eat, drink and shop and where we will finally have many students living in the inner city.

Roel Loopers

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FREMANTLE QUEST HOTEL NOW OPEN!

Posted in accommodation, economy, fremantle, hospitality, hotel, tourism by freoview on December 13, 2016

pak-4

The Fremantle QUEST serviced apartments hotel in Pakenham Street opened yesterday, so let your visitors know about this new accommodation in the port city.

It is very important for the Fremantle economy to keep visitors here over night, instead of them going to Perth or elsewhere, so the more tourist accommodation the better.

Roel Loopers

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