Why are ratepayers in Port Coogee charged SARs (in addition to the general rates) and what do they pay for? What if there were no SARs?
The Port Coogee development approval was dependent on Council imposing a SAR to ensure additional costs of managing the waterways and other development assets were properly catered for upon their handover to the City. Specifically, the SAR is a source of funding for the City to:
- Meet its obligations under the development’s Waterways Environmental Management Plan:
- Ensure marine water and sediment quality meets the Environmental Protection Authorities (EPA) objective
- Protect the coastline and beaches within the area from adverse changes due to the development
- Develop and implement a Landscape Management Plan for the parks and recreational reserve east of the development
- Contribute to the understanding of marine water quality in eastern Owen Anchorage, and
- Maintain higher levels of service for public realm landscaping and streetscape assets within the development (ranging from an additional 33 per cent to 100 pe rcent over what general rates pay for).
Your SARs assist to pay for the provision, maintenance and/or renewal of the following:
- Management of the waterways
- Ground Water Interception Drain (GID) 3rd pipe system
- Sand bypassing (every 3 years) and beach nourishment works
- Seawalls and rock revetments
- Maintaining Ngarkal Beach (replenishing, reshaping, rock removal)
- Maintaining and renewing public open spaces, parks, BBQs, shelters, public art, bridges, boardwalks, jetty, footpaths, street lighting and streetscapes at a higher level than the rest of the district.
The funding raised by your SARs is complemented by an initial deposit received from the developer, being a requirement for the City taking over responsibility for the management of the waterways. However, this deposit will eventually be exhausted and the SAR will become the main source of funding for managing the additional responsibilities.
The Port Coogee development would likely not have proceeded in its current form, as the ongoing high cost of maintenance and eventual renewal of the unique assets would have otherwise been borne by all of the City’s ratepayers. If the SARs were discontinued, the City would no longer be able to maintain the area in line with community use and expectations, or meet its environmental obligations resulting from the development.What is an appropriate balance for the SARs reserve account?
This will ultimately be guided by asset management planning and the City’s experience in maintaining and renewing assets over time. There will always be a surplus in the account as many of the assets are long lived, high cost and need replacing over the long term, hence the need to progressively build the fund in anticipation of these renewal dates.How much is the SAR and how are charges calculated?
In the 2021-22 Annual Budget, Council set SARs at a rate of 1.2868 cents in the dollar (RID), with individual improved property charges ranging from $210 - $840 per year (average charge is $360). This is calculated by multiplying the property’s GRV by the SARs RID. The same calculation applies for houses, apartments, commercial shops and vacant land.How often is the rate reviewed?
The rate for the SARs is reviewed each year as part of the annual budget and rating considerations, having regard to existing and forecast needs.How does Council determine what is paid for by SARS versus general municipal funds?
The SAR proportionally funds the higher level of service and waterways management obligations accepted by Council for the Port Coogee development. The SAR can only contribute funding towards applicable costs incurred within the Port Coogee residential marina development. This includes Ngarkal Beach as it’s a man-made beach that exists because of the development.Can residents have input into how funds held within SARs are spent?
The reasons for establishing the SAR do not include facilitating any new works or services requested by residents. As previously mentioned, the SAR can only contribute towards applicable costs within the Port Coogee residential marina development.Are there any other locations in Cockburn that pay SARS?
There is only one other location in Cockburn where ratepayers pay a SAR – the Cockburn Coast Redevelopment Area facilitated through Development WA. This currently comprises the Shoreline (Robb Jetty) precinct and will grow with future precincts within the development area. The reasons for establishing this SAR are very similar to those for Port Coogee (higher levels of service).There is a general perception that Port Coogee is maintained to a higher standard than the rest of the City, is this true?
Yes, but this is because it is being paid for by the ratepayers in the area via SARs.Will the reserve fund ever be terminated?
If the underlying reasons for SARs were no longer valid, these would be terminated with any remaining funds returned back to ratepayers (as required by legislation).What’s the plan for the future?
The City is developing long term asset management plans (AMPs) covering assets at Port Coogee that will better inform future funding requirements for the area.