'Historic': City of Mandurah pass rate cut for businesses, rate freeze for residents in next budget

Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams. Photo: Supplied.

Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams. Photo: Supplied.

Mandurah residents won't face a rate increase in 2020/21 after councillors passed a "historic" budget last week.

At the most recent council meeting on June 23, a 5 per cent rate cut for businesses and a freeze on residential rates, fees and charges were approved.

The due date for rates has also been extended, all in an effort to kickstart the local economy following the global pandemic.

The plan is expected to cost the City up to $3.5 million in lost revenue.

In addition to the rate relief, the budget includes funding for the "ambitious" Restart Mandurah agenda with over $2 million worth of new local construction projects and $2.8 million in new business and community grants, events and activation ideas to attract visitors.

Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams moved the budget at the council meeting, describing it as a "masterpiece" and a "huge, huge piece of work".

"We've had to find a way to do more with less," he said.

"This is one of the most ambitious economic development agendas... it's something we should be really proud of."

Mr Williams said the focus of this year's financial plan, in light of the coronavirus crisis, was to reconnect the Mandurah community.

"These are challenging times and this is a challenging but exciting budget which will help us to reinvigorate our local economy and reconnect our community," he said.

"In times like this, our community relies on council to represent their best interests and to support them in overcoming the challenges we face together, and this budget sets us on the right path to do that.

"We are particularly focused on stimulating activity in the hospitality, tourism, retail and construction sectors - Mandurah's largest segments of the economy and those hardest hit by the pandemic."

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The budget was met with support from all councillors except Ahmed Zilani, who opposed the rate cut for businesses.

"I support a rate freeze for everybody," he said.

"I am not against the business community. I fully support them and I personally feel their pain.

"If we decide to give rate reductions, it has to be for everybody regardless of commercial and residential properties."

However, corporate services director Casey Mihovilovich said the business rate reduction was the "most equitable approach".

The budget was passed 10-1.

Big projects for 2020/21

The Restart Mandurah plan forms a big part of the next financial year's budget, however it also consists of a "bold" $43 million capital works program.

This includes $450,000 for the Novara Foreshore upgrade with landscaping, new pathways, shelters and seating areas, interpretive signage and totems and viewing deck on the way.

There will be $339,000 of similar works at Falcon Bay and the Dawesville and Madora Bay foreshores will also undergo upgrades.

Mr Williams said it was all about "putting money into the pockets of local businesses" and stimulating local jobs.

"That will not only create local work but will go a long way towards creating useable and enjoyable spaces for locals and visitors to enjoy now and into the future," Mr Williams said.

There is also $7.9 million allocated to run community facilities, programs and services including local libraries, recreation centres and youth development.

An additional $2.07 million will be spent on festivals and events starting with Christmas and leading into Crabfest and Winter Wonderland in 2021.

This is about the same as what was allocated in the 2019/20 budget, with the City not anticipating any less spending on events despite the pandemic.

It also doesn't include further funding allocated in the Restart Mandurah plan.

More than $1.6 million will be spent on Mandurah's youth, upgrading playgrounds and sporting club facilities.