Darwin City Council’s massive rate increase revealed

by | May 19, 2022 | News | 0 comments

Darwin City Council has announced one of the largest rate increases over the past decade, with a 4.5 per cent hike this year following a zero rate increase in 2020 due to COVID-19 and a more modest 2.5 per cent hike last year.

Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis said the steep increase was due to entering “a different economic period affected by rising construction costs and a nation-wide shortage of skilled labour”.

The annual municipal plan for the 2022-23 financial year will also see kerbside waste collection increase by 29 cents and parking fees in the CBD will rise by 10 cents, which is understood to be needed to further upgrade parking metres for tap and go payment processes.

“We’re very aware of the rising cost of living and we want to make sure that we deliver a budget that cares for our city, but also cares about our people,” Mr Vatskalis said.

“For many people, Darwin is a small city but not many people know there is 122sq/km. We’ve got roads and parks to maintain and we maintain and rely on the workforce to deliver services.”

While Mr Vatskalis said the new budget is “sustainable”, adding that council had done its part to stimulate the economy over the last two years of the pandemic, it is understood council has not delivered fully on its previously budgeted capital works programs.

It was also revealed that the council is looking at several high-budget projects this year, including the previously announced $25 million Casuarina Aquatic and Leisure Centre – which was budgeted for in 2020-21 but has not yet commenced, resulting in rising costs.

Another $18 million will be used to improve the Shoal Bay Waste Management Facility, although Council was light on detail of what that massive amount of money would be used for exactly, or what improvements ratepayers would actually see for it.

Council’s acting chief executive Simone Saunders called the budget “responsible” and said it ensures that council will be able to deliver on new plans and maintain those already established.

“I think the budget this year is a responsible one,” she said. “The Council must have a balanced budget, we can’t have a deficit and to continue to deliver the services that we want to maintain comes at an additional cost.”

She said the 4.5 per cent rate increase will translate to the average taxpayer shelling out an additional $1.50 weekly and $1.80 for a curbside waste collection, flattening out to an annual average rise of $96.

By comparison, Palmerston Council’s budget plan for the financial year will see rates hiked by 2.9 per cent. The residential waste charge remains unchanged.

Meanwhile, council depot workers have commenced protected industrial action, angered at the recent enterprise agreement put forward by the city that they say erodes conditions of their employment.

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