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

Main Points of Interest - FAQ's 2014/15

 

When will I receive my rates notice?

The City of Cockburn rates notices will be mailed out in late July 2014.

If you have not received yours by this time, please contact 9411 3444, or email one of our staff via:customer@cockburn.wa.gov.au with your:

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

Main Points of Interest - FAQ's for 2014/15

 Why have my rates gone up by more than inflation?

The bulk of the increase has occurred due to increases to State Government utility (electricity, gas and water) and waste management (which have increased by nearly 100%). The other contributing factor is the increased funding requirement for the Citys workforce, which contributes the largest share of operating costs. These have gone up due to enterprise agreement commitments and growth related to increasing services to the community. Most of the services the Council provides to the community are people driven and without people those services would disappear.

The City has also 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.  Responsibility for the maintenance of a range of new parks and recreation areas in the coming year has also added to the cost pressures faced by the City. Ratepayers tell us they want good roads, footpaths, parks, libraries and a range of other services.

Why have rubbish charges risen so much?
The Council believes it delivers good value for money in the current waste charge whilst meeting the targets of the State Governments Waste Authority recycling key performance indicators.

Unlike most Councils, Cockburn has a weekly recycling program and in addition processes the waste from the Green top (Municipal Solid Waste MSW) bins through the jointly owned facility at Canning Vale operated by the Southern Metropolitan Regional Council (SMRC). This ensures that 60% of the MSW is turned into compost and not dumped to landfill.

Council collects 45,000 tonnes of MSW and Recycling waste each year and recycles 73% with only 27% going to landfill. Council is also providing six free trailer passes to the Henderson Landfill, two junk verge collections and two green waste verge collections this year. The fact that the State Governments Landfill levy for waste is rising from $28 to $55 per tonne does not help and adds to the cost of the service.

Where is my recycling rubbish going?

The City now takes its recycling material collected from the Yellow top bins to the jointly owned facility at Canning Vale.

Please also note that all relevant information is contained in our Rates Brochure that has gone out with the Rates Notices. 

 

^ Top 

 

Common Questions and Answers

Q: What other Council charges have increased and why?

 Waste charges have increased $408 to $435 to cover the cost of the service delivery.

The Security levy has increased from $60 to $65 to assist in providing CCTV and CO-Safe.

The State Governments Fire Levy has risen by 6.6% - 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


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

The City will spend $163.43m on services and capital projects. In 2014/15 the City will commence or complete a number of major community infrastructure projects.

For example, the City will complete the final stages of the $42M integrated health facility and library in Success, and planning for the regional physical activity and education centre at Cockburn Central West which will include the Fremantle Football Club and Curtin University.

The $46M capital works program includes a record spend on major road and drainage upgrades and work on facilities including Naval Base Shacks, the Coogee Caravan Park,  adventure playground at Bibra Lake, our magnificent parks, wetlands, bushland 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 sustained 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 five years, the weekly rubbish and recycling collection service are all services provided by your local Cockburn Council. Just check your Councils website to find out what other services are provided by the Council. The list is long and you will use one of them every day.

Q: How does Cockburn compare with surrounding Councils

  • Fremantle is rising by 5.9%
  • Melville is rising by 4.9% 
  • Kwinana is rising by 3.9%
  • Rockingham is rising by 6.9% for residential rates


Q: What about other charges levied by Council

The rubbish collection charge is rising by $27 to $435, the Community Surveillance Levy will increase by $5 to $65 and the Emergency Services Levy will increase by 6.6% as advised by the State Government. .
For an average property, the basket of service charges levied by Council will rise by approximately 5.1%.

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, underground power (UGP) and the emergency services levy (ESL) which is a State Government imposed charge to fund the fire brigade and the SES. Pensioners may defer payment of those rates, UGP and ESL charges.  For an immediate application to register for a concession, eligible ratepayers must ring the Water Authority 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%. However, Seniors and Part Pensioners are not entitled to defer their rates, UGP or ESL charges.


^ Top 

 

Q: Why are you making it harder for pensioners?

The City is not making it harder for pensioners to pay their rates. Paying rates for pensioners has not changed. A pensioner who receives the full pension rebate can pay or defer rates like in prior years. If they choose to defer, they must pay their waste and security levy by the due date, being Tuesday 2nd September, 2014.

Pensioners can arrange for regular deductions through Centrepay, to pay off their rates. This is a free direct bill paying service available to 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 www.centrelink.gov.au.

Q: Why dont pensioners get a rebate on the waste charge?

The State Government refuses to extend the Pension rebate to rubbish charges. They will only give it for rates and the emergency services levy. The City has attempted to have the State Government change its mind using the $40m windfall gain the State received from their higher landfill levy. The City has argued the State should use the money to subsidise pensioners and to date the State Government has said no!


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 payment plan to suit your circumstances. Council offer, weekly, fortnightly and monthly payment arrangement options.

Q: Do you offer free financial counselling service to assist me in paying this account?

The City does offer financial counselling for ratepayers who are suffering financial hardship.  Please feel free to contact one of our Offices which are located at Atwell 9414 6302 or Coolbellup 9331 1174 to make an appointment.

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.

 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.


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?

Yes. Gross Rental Valuations (GRV) are re-assessed every three years and the City has updated valuations effective as at 1st July 2014. Unimproved Valuations (UV), are valued annually. The average increase for residential property was 23%. To remove the impact of this increase, the council reduced the 2013/14 rate in the dollar of 5.089 cents in the dollar of GRV value by 23% then added the Council approved increase of 4% to arrive at 4.303 cents in the dollar. This applies to the average residence (home) in the City. Some properties increased by more than 23%, so they will receive a larger increase than 4% whilst some properties had an increase less 23% will receive an increase less than 4%. Council is not allowed to have 45,000 different rates so as to overcome the averaging problem.
 
Q: Why have you charged me a specified area rate? Are there any other areas being charged?

The City has levied a Specified Area Rates (SAR) on all land holders in the development known as Port Coogee. The levy is to cover the variance of the higher level of service and management performed in the public realm i.e. Parks & Streetscapes areas in Port Coogee, compared to other public realm areas within the City. The levy is imposed to ensure the additional services and management are implemented at the marginal cost.

This is the first SAR the City has introduced and the developer should have conveyed to each owner of land in the development the Citys intention to charge a SAR. The City does not have any other Specified Area Rates other than for Port Coogee.

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. 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, underground power and ESL charge, and seniors up to a 25% rebate on their rates and ESL charges only.
 A discount of 50% will apply to those with high voltage power lines (strung of wooden/concrete poles) remaining. These charges will be applied for five years and 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, but the cost will be kept as low as possible.

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

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

^ Top 

 

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

You can always speak to your Elected Member. 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 a 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 56,287.50. 
The Mayor also receives a fully maintained motor vehicle, with a nominal value of $15,000 but must reimburse Council for any private use. The fees increased on 1 July 2014 by 3% in line with the determination made by the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal.

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.

 
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 0.5% is one of the lowest charged within the industry and Council only charges the credit card fee plus GST which it incurs itself.

Q.  Do you offer Direct Debit?

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

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

Application forms are available from the links above or contact rates@cockburn.wa.gov.au or phone 9411 3444.

^ Top