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.

FREMANTLE FINANCIAL HARDSHIP POLICY FOR RATEPAYERS

Posted in city of fremantle, covid-19, finances, local government, property, Uncategorized by freoview on July 8, 2020

 

It has only now come to my attention that the FPOL Committee of Fremantle Council will this evening sign off on a Financial Hardship Policy for ratepayers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Each application will be determined on a case by case basis and where possible, the City will provide assistance subject to the following conditions:

•In the opinion of the Chief Executive Officer the ratepayer is experiencing genuine financial hardship

•The ratepayer’s circumstances can be substantiated upon request

•The ratepayer is not bankrupt or subject to a bankruptcy petition

•The property is the principal place of residence or the principal place of business of the ratepayer

•The applicant must be the owner or co-owner of the property and legally liable for payment of rates and charges

When a ratepayer is determined by the City to be in Financial Hardship, the City will offer the following options:

•Temporarily accept reduced payments and establish an alternative payment arrangement plan;

•Temporarily pause payment of rates, administration fees and charges;

•Cease any penalty interest for up to 6 months;

•Suspend any debt recovery action.

Payment arrangements will be facilitated in accordance with Section 6.49 of the Local Government Act 1995and the City will endeavour to establish payment terms that are realistic and achievable for the ratepayer.

 

Roel Loopers

 

HERITAGE BEAUTIES FOR LEASE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, heritage, property, real estate, Uncategorized by freoview on June 25, 2020

 

DSC_0887

 

These two stunning buildings in Fremantle’s historic High Street are for lease. The one on the right is all vacant while the one on the left has the Breaks cafe at street level, but amazing available spaces upstairs.

Any takers?

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE TECHNICAL COLLEGE SOLD

Posted in city of fremantle, property, real estate, Uncategorized by freoview on June 19, 2020

 

TC 1

 

More good news for Fremantle that the former Technical College at the Cappuccino Strip has been sold by the WA State Government.

The heritage listed property spans from Essex Street to Norfolk Street and from Essex Lane to South Terrace. It is an iconic building in a prime location opposite Fremantle Markets, so we’ll have to wait and see who purchased it and what the future plans for it are.

Roel Loopers

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COUNCIL RATES EXPLAINED BY WALGA

Posted in city of fremantle, local government, property, Uncategorized by freoview on June 17, 2020

 

Rates-Q-A-2-page

I saw this explanation by WALGA- WA Local Government Association– about council rates, so share it with you.

 

Roel Loopers

NEGOTIATIONS FOR NEW FREMANTLE MARKETS LEASE

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle markets, local government, property, Uncategorized by freoview on June 17, 2020

 

City of Fremantle CEO Phil St John has been tasked with negotiating a possible lease extension for the Fremantle Markets with the Fremantle Markets Pty Ltd.

The markets are in need of urgent repairs to the sum of $ 1,7 million and the negotiations will include that FMPL would pay for the repairs and upgrades and in exchange for that receive a longer lease term. The present lease expires in 2026.

If agreement about new lease details between the CoF and FMPL can be reached it will need to be approved by full Council.

Roel Loopers

 

EAST FREMANTLE COUNCIL RATES

 

There is quite a bit of controversy about the City of Fremantle rates for the next financial year, with even the local papers Fremantle Herald and Fremantle Gazette having an argy-bargy about it, so here also the Town of East Fremantle rates for the new financial year:

The following are the proposed Differential General Rates and Minimum Payments for the 2020/21 financial year.
Residential (GRV)                             7.4225 cents in the dollar
Commercial (GRV)                          11.403 cents in the dollar
Minimum (Residential)                     $1106
Minimum (Commercial)                    $1654
A statement of the Rating Objects and Reasons has been prepared and is available to view on the Town’s website www.eastfremantle.wa.gov.au.

Roel Loopers

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ARE FREO COUNCIL RATES RAISED OR NOT?

Posted in city of fremantle, local government, property, Uncategorized by freoview on June 4, 2020

 

As always the debate about council rates being raised or not rising in Fremantle has become political, with both sides of the argument saying the other side is wrong, so what is really happening?

Is Fremantle Council, as reported in the Fremantle Herald last week, raising rates by 10% or is there no rise in rates revenue?

The simple question here for me is do property owners pay more in rates this coming financial year than they did last year? Do they who paid e.g. $ 2,000 in rates last time, have to pay $ 2,200 this time?

To make the debate more factual and apolitical I copy the comment from Ian Kerr, who does not live in Fremantle, but who was a Councillor at the City of Vincent for 14 years:

Because the Valuer-General has revised GRV down in a falling property market, City of Fremantle needs to increase the rate in dollar by 10% in order to maintain the same level of rate revenue in total. Overall, ratepayers will pay the the same amount as previously.
As always in such revaluations, some values will have been adjusted by more than others, so some people will find they are paying less and others (especially those that have made improvements to their property) will pay more. This is always difficult to explain to ratepayers (as I know from 14 years on Vincent Council) but Council has no say in this – and the Valuer General is required, by law, to undertake a revaluation every three years.

I hope Ian Kerr’s comments clarify the issue.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE RATES UPPERCUT.

Posted in city of fremantle, covid-19, economy, local government, property, Uncategorized by freoview on June 1, 2020

 

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Fremantle Council has not officially  released the budget yet and the cuts they will have to make due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but those who have unrealistically called for rates to be reduced are in for a big shock, if the article in the Fremantle Herald this week is correct and that rates will increase by 10 per cent. That is huge and might well be unprecedented.

The sad reality is that the City of Fremantle has a huge decline in revenue from parking, property leases, etc. Reportedly that is some $ 2 million a month CoF is missing out on, hence some services will have to be cut, staff and councillors took a 20 per cent pay cut, and some have lost their jobs.

It is easy to put blame on councillors and directors, but no one in the world could guess that the worldwide pandemic would cripple the economy everywhere, but is shows also that a small local council such as Fremantle need to be extremely prudent with expenditure because it relies too much on parking and tourism, in a world where High Street retail is declining rapidly.

Fremantle has had no income from festivals, concerts, events, etc. this summer, because of the social distancing restrictions, and it does not have enough money in the bank to make up for that loss of income.

The 10% rate rise is a huge shock, although some claim it is not a real rate rise because the rate in the dollar based on gross rental values is going up about 10% because the average GRV has gone down about 10%. The total rates income is exactly the same.

But I fear there is more to come and that some good services will be cut, while public works will not been done.

These are incredibly hard times for so many people, so hard for many small businesses that might not survive or might not re-open at all. The WA Treasurer has warned we will get into a recessions, and that is basically happening in Fremantle as well.

I just hope and wish that Freo will get out of it a better place, with much development still happening, but how patient is the community going to be and how long can businesses struggle on?

Stay safe and well, Freo!

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE COUNCIL WINS FOOTPATH WAR

 

High Street

 

The City of Fremantle has won its legal action against the owner of the property in High Street opposite Victoria Hall, where the building owner claimed the footpath and bus stop area on the road belonged to him, and put signs in the pavement and on walls accordingly.

The WA Supreme Court overruled a previous court decision that granted ownership to the property owner and ruled the land was Crown land and the property owner had no claim.

It all started when the property owner wanted to erect a covered bike shelter on the road where the bus stop is and that was rejected by Fremantle Council. The owner appealed to the State Administrative Tribunal(SAT), which ruled that there was ambiguity about who owned the land and directed Fremantle Council to get a legal ruling in court.

The reported $ 500,000 legal cost was controversial in the Fremantle community, with some saying all council should have done was sit down with the owner and sort it out, however the SAT direction insisted on a legal ruling about the ownership of the small strip of land.

Fremantle City will now get around $ 300,000 back, so they are still out of pocket, but at least it is now clear who owns the land, and the bus stop has already been reinstated.

Roel Loopers

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