City of Cockburn, PO Box 1215, Bibra Lake DC, Western Australia, 6965
Telephone: (08) 9411 3444

FAQs 2015-16 



Cockburn Rates Concession FAQs 

Why is a rates concession (refund) necessary for some residents?

In June 2015 during the process of setting its budget for the 2015-16 financial year, the City overestimated the amount of money required to operate its waste services to the value of $1.3M which was then incorporated into the rate in the dollar.

The City's objective was to have an average increase of 3.5% on non-minimum rated properties and 5.66% on minimum rated properties as originally intended. To correct the error in the waste charges and produce the outcome above for ratepayers, the Council has resolved to issue a concession on the issued rate notices to ratepayers whose rates were higher than advertised charges.

The error was brought to our attention when the City received a high number of calls from residents and the Coogee Beach Progress Association enquiring about their rates bills, and a deputation from the Banjup Residents Group at the August Council meeting, about a possible miscalculation of rates. Following this, the City initiated an internal review and an independent audit of its 2015-16 rate setting process.

How many ratepayers are impacted by the error?

Not all ratepayers are impacted by this. There was no impact to commercial, industrial, rural or minimum rated properties; or on vacant/unimproved properties.

We estimate 14,761 properties will receive a credit or refund on their rates. For some 10,800 properties, the refund will be less than $100 and as little as $9. For those higher value properties, the refund is larger.


How will I know if rates for my property require a concession?

Each affected property owner will receive separate correspondence from the City outlining their specific circumstances by 23 September 2015.

As many of the affected ratepayers chose to pay in instalments, the rebate will be applied as an offset to any outstanding balance on the rates for this year.

If rates have been paid in full and the value of the refund is more than $50, a credit payment will be issued.

If rates have been paid in full and the value of the refund is less than $50 this will be applied by way of credit to future rates.

All refunds will be via electronic funds transfer to a ratepayers nominated bank account.

The City anticipates all of these transactions to be finalised by no later than end of October.

What has been done to ensure similar errors will not occur again?
Measures have now been put in place to ensure that this cannot happen again.


The two key measures will be:

a) The City's auditors will be involved in the annual budget process to validate proposed annual rating strategy prior to this being publicly advertised (Objects and Reasons which are usually advertised in April each year).

b) A rating distribution model will be presented to Council in order to validate that the advertised increase in rates is being achieved.

When will I receive my rates notice?

The City of Cockburn rates notices were mailed out in late July 2015.

If you have not received yours by this time, please contact 9411 3444, or email one of our staff with your:

        1. Name,
        2. Contact details,
        3. Address of the property and;
        4. Your Postal address.

Why have my rates gone up by more than inflation?

The Citys workforce contributes the largest share of operating costs and these have gone up due to enterprise agreement commitments and growth related to increasing services to the community. Above CPI increases have also applied to State Government utility, waste management and other charges the City must fund.

The City has also recently adopted detailed asset management plans which highlight the need for extra funding if existing service delivery levels are to be maintained over the long term from existing assets. Responsibility for the ongoing maintenance of a rapidly growing asset base comprising new roads, footpaths and parks from new subdivisions has also added to the cost pressures faced by the City.

But my rates have gone up by more than the average increase

This year, Council has incorporated the waste and co-safe charges into the rate in the dollar, similar to Melville, Fremantle and East Fremantle Councils. This does mean those assessments with high GRV values will pay more. The reason why Council has done this action is so that Pensioners will be entitled to a larger rebate. Given pensioners are living on fixed incomes such as the Age Pension, many of the pensioners have been impacted by negative adjustments made in the recent Federal and State Government budgets. As such, this action will provide many of the approximately 6000 pensioners with a bigger rebate, meaning they will pay less.

Please also note that all relevant information is contained in our Council's Brochure that has gone out with the Rates Notices. (see above documents)

Q: What other Council charges have increased and why?

The standard waste charge has increased from $435 to $450 to cover the cost of the service delivery and applies to rural, commercial and industrial properties only as it is incorporated into the rate in the dollar for residential properties.

The State Governments Fire Levy has risen by 10.8% - This is a state government levy and we do not know why it has increased by more than CPI.

Q: Why do I have to pay rates as I dont use any of your facilities?

Every ratepayer uses one or more facilities provided by the Council. The moment you drive out of your property onto a road you are using a Council facility. If you live outside of the City and have a rental property, your tenant uses the Councils facilities.

Q: What services does Council provide for my rates?

The Council provides a great number of services, here is a short list:

  • Libraries
  • Child, Youth, Family, Seniors and Aged Services
  • Community Centres and Sporting Facilities
  • Land use planning and regulation
  • Building licencing, regulation and advice
  • Health Services for the regulation and inspection of food premises, dust and noise monitoring to protect and improve community amenities, and management of contaminated sites.
  • Maintenance and upgrading of roads, drainage and footpaths
  • Weekly collection of waste and recyclables/Waste Management and Disposal
  • Provision and management of beautiful parks and reserves across the City of Cockburn and sporting facilities and ovals.
  • Management of beaches and beach reserves
  • Management of lakes and nature reserves
  • Free family concerts and events
  • Generous Community Grants and donations program
  • Spot landscaping and beautification in strategic locations throughout the City of Cockburn
  • Provision of public art

Q: What do you do with the money raised by my rates?

The City will spend $180M on works and services in 2015-16, including $82M on capital projects. This year, the City will commence or complete a number of major community infrastructure projects. For example, the City will commence the new Regional Recreation centre at Cockburn Central which includes a range of swimming pools, six hard courts for indoor sports, a modern gym, lots of car parking, several ovals and will house the Fremantle Dockers (they are paying for their own facilities).

Another highlight is $9M towards upgrading the Citys works depot to meet growing demands and needs. This years capital program caters for major road and drainage upgrades and community facilities, including a new adventure playground at Bibra Lake and improving our magnificent parks, wetlands, bushland areas and coastal dunes. It also includes the progressive refurbishment of older infrastructure, ensuring that the needs of the community continue to be met in a sustainable and responsible manner.

Q: I never see anything with the money you get from me.

The City spends money across all areas of the City and in each suburb. Just look at your local park, footpath, new or resealed roads, all street lights are being kept on despite the State Government increasing the cost by 100% in two years, the weekly rubbish and recycling collection service are all services provided by your local Cockburn Council.

Just check the website under Council Services or Community Services to find out what other services are provided. The list is long and you will use one of them every day.

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Q: How does Cockburn compare with surrounding Councils?

  • Fremantle is rising by 5.0%
  • Melville is rising by 3.75%
  • Kwinana Residential and Light Industrial is rising by 3.5%
  • Rockingham is rising by 7.0%

Q: I am a pensioner, can I get a concession on my rates account?

Provided pensioners meet the eligibility criteria, they will be entitled to claim up to 50% of their current years rates and the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) which is a State Government imposed charge to fund the fire brigade and the SES. Underground Power (UGP) rebates are also available, however they are capped to a maximum amount.

Full Pensioners are able to defer payment of their Rates, UGP and ESL charges. For an immediate application to register for a concession, eligible ratepayers must ring the Water Corporation on 1300 659 951 and one of their officers will take all their details over the phone.

Seniors who meet the eligibility criteria are also entitled to claim a rebate of up to 25% of Rates and ESL charges only, and this rebate is limited to a maximum amount. Seniors and Part Pensioners are not entitled to defer their rates, UGP or ESL charges.

Q: How can the City help pensioners to pay their Rates?

This year pensioners will benefit from increased rebates because the Waste Management Service charge and the CoSafe Levy have been incorporated in the Rate in the Dollar and the minimum payment for owners of Residential properties.

Pensioners are encouraged to make a regular payment plan either by direct debit or through Centrepay, to pay off their rates each year. The Centrepay option is a free direct bill paying service for customers who receive a Centrelink payment. By contacting Centrelink direct, they will process your deduction request and assist with any questions or alternatively, visit the website at

Q: I cant afford to pay my full rates at this time, how can I pay the rates off in instalments? Can I also pay by monthly instalments?

The Council is aware of ratepayers who are having financial difficulties. If you are unable to meet the required instalments offered by Council, please contact Rates Services to discuss a direct debit payment plan to suit your circumstances.

Council offer direct debit payments by instalment, in full or payment arrangements weekly, fortnightly or monthly and from your credit card, cheque or savings account.

Direct Debit, application forms are available above on the left, and you can contact or phone 9411 3444 for further information.

Q: Am I entitled to Trailer passes?

The City will issue you six free passes and for most ratepayers the Council will provide four verge collections, two junk and two green waste. If you have misplaced your rate notice, Council cannot duplicate this original rate notice which has the Trailer passes in the body of that notice and there will be no replacement Trailer passes.

Q: Can we get more Trailer passes?

No, if you wish to use the Henderson Waste Recovery Park after you have used your six Trailer passes, you will have to pay when using the Henderson Waste Recovery Park to dump your rubbish.

Q: Why do Commercial and Industrial properties not receive Trailer passes?

Commercial and industrial premises generate more waste than residential owners, as such Trailer passes have never been extended to the commercial and industrial property owners. A further reason is that many industrial property owners actually have private arrangements for their waste disposal due to the large volumes they generate.

Please note: Trailer passes are not transferable nor are any residents authorised or permitted to sell these vouchers. Such practices could lead to offenders being refused trailer passes in future years.  Trailer Passes are a service offered to our residents specifically for their dedicated use.

Q: I have a vacant block of land, how come I didnt get Trailer passes?

As vacant land owners do not pay the Waste Charge, they are therefore not entitled to receive the Trailer passes. This is because the cost of providing the Trailer passes is built into the Waste Charge.

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Q: How many road side verge collections are you having this year?

Council will provide four verge pick-ups, two general rubbish/junk and two green waste. Read More

Q: Has my property been re-valued this year?

No, Gross Rental Valuations (GRV) are re-assessed every three years and for the City this is effective as at 1st July 2014. Unimproved Valuations (UV), are valued annually.

Q: Why have you charged me a specified area rate? Are there any other areas being charged?

The City has levied special area rates on the development known as Port Coogee and Cockburn Coast. These levies cover the special maintenance needs of these areas when they are handed over by the developer. It has been introduced now so as to allow funds to be collected and to keep the levy at a very low level.

Port Coogee was the first special area rate the Council introduced and the developer should have conveyed to each owner of land in the development the Councils intention to charge the special area rate.

Q: Underground Power: Why is the Council doing UGP?

Council believes that the provision of UGP in older areas such as Coolbellup and East Hamilton Hill assists in the rejuvenation of the suburbs, removes ugly over head infrastructure and generally improves the amenity of the area together with improving the overall power network, which has grown with more land now being sub-divided. To facilitate this project, Council is paying 20% of the project cost with rate payers asked to make a contribution over five years. The Council believes that property values increase as a result of improved amenity in the area plus a more reliable power supply. Works have now been completed in both Coolbellup and Hamilton Hill.

A survey of the area indicated 65% supported the undergrounding of power in Coolbellup. Not as many supported the payment. Council believes it is an important part of the improvement of the suburb.

Q: What is Council charging for UGP?

Council is charging all properties $510 for the removal of overhead infrastructure with a further $100 for the connection (green dome) from street/property boundary to the meter box. Pensioners are entitled up to a 50% rebate off their current years rates and ESL charge, however underground power rebates have been limited to a maximum amount. Seniors are entitled to up to a 25% rebate on their current years rates and ESL charges and are not eligible for rebates on underground power as this only applied to the first year.

A discount of 50% will apply to those with high voltage power lines (strung off wooden/concrete poles) remaining and these charges will be applied for five years. A small interest component has already been included in the charge so as to allow ratepayers to pay the account over the five year period.

Commercial properties will pay a proportion of the cost based on their draw of power from the grid, and the cost was kept as low as possible.

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Q: What if I sell my property during the five year repayment period for UGP?

The outstanding UGP balance will need to be cleared by the vendor/seller at settlement.

Q: Can I speak to my Councillor and tell them that we are not happy?

You can always speak to your Elected Member, but remember they are only human too. Keep all communications friendly and this will go a long way to putting your message over to your Elected Member.

Q: Is it better to put my grievance in writing and will I get a written reply?

Who do I send it to?
All grievances should be put in writing and should be addressed to the Chief Executive Officer. All letters will be replied to as the matter is researched and hopefully resolved.

Q: When are the next elections?

The Next election is in October 2015. Read more : Elected Members Page

Q: What do the Councillors and Mayor get paid?

All Councillors are entitled to receive sitting fees and allowances in accordance with the Local Government Act. The annual fees for a Councillor are $34,400. The Mayor is entitled to $137,400 and the Deputy Mayor receives $56,287. The Mayor also receives a fully maintained motor vehicle, with a nominal value of $15,000 and must reimburse Council for any private use. The fees did not increase on 1 July 2015.

Q: If I am not happy to put my complaint in writing, what are my alternatives? Can I arrange a meeting with the Mayor?

All rates complaints are dealt with by the administration staff not the Mayor or Elected Members. You can contact the Mayor or your Elected Member but the outcome will not differ unless there has been an error in preparing the assessment.

Q: Can I go to a Council meeting and ask why the rates have increased?

All ratepayers can go to any Council meeting to ask why rates increase. It should be noted that if you wish to attend a Council Meeting to ask questions, you must lodge a public question form before 10 a.m. on the day of a Council Meeting. This form can be obtained from the public question web page, mailed to you, or picked up from our Administration Office.

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Other Information


Merchant Credit/Debit Card Surcharge Fees

Two years ago Council introduced this fee as there is a significant cost to Council for accepting credit card payments from Ratepayers. This is consistent with widely accepted business practices including those of other Local Governments and utility providers. The Councils fee of 0.50% is one of the lowest charged within the industry and Council only charges the credit card fee plus GST which it incurs itself.

Q. What payment options do you offer?

The City offers an extensive list of payment methods ranging from electronic methods including Bpay, direct debit, internet and phone as well as paying in person at the Post Office and Council Administration Office.

Direct Debit payments can be made by instalment, in full or payment arrangements for weekly, fortnightly or monthly from your, cheque or savings account.

Application forms are available above on the left or contact or phone 9411 3444.

Any amendments or cancellations to a direct debit deduction must be done in writing, please email

Q. Can I receive my rates by email?

Yes, the City now provides the option of receiving your Rates and Instalment notices by email, known as eRates.

Register for this service by following the link to and sign up.

Q. Is there a cost for replacement Rate Notices?

Yes. Please retain your notice for tax purposes and refinancing as copies of rates notices will cost $20 per notice up to a maximum amount of $100 per property.

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