The Iniquities of SAR
“The iniquities of SAR were aired by the then-chair of PGLOA Steve O’brien at the AGM of October 2016. This presentation the Silent Sting can be viewed here. The opportunity to correct these iniquities was available to the City of Busselton during the .drafting of the New Management Agreement in 2015, but PGLOA representations were ignored.”
The new Management Agreement, whilst being of some good for the greater City of Busselton, has three adverse impacts on Port Geographe landowners.
- Under the new Management Agreement DoT is responsible for annual waterways maintenance. Consequently the State Government picks up most of the tab for the annual coastal and waterways costs and bills the Shire about $300,000 per year. The City’s payment to DoT comes from the WMRF built up over the years by our SAR levy. There is no cap on the amount that can be drawn from the WMRF.
- The area under management to which the SAR is now funding, has been greatly extended along the coastal strip to Morgan Street in the west, and nearly to Baudin Reserve in the east. This extended zone is well in excess of any perceived impacts from the Port Geographe infrastructure – either pre or post groyne realignment.
- Under the new Management Agreement, the City of Busselton resolved not to make the 25% contribution from annual general municipality collections to waterway management. Consequently we are the only ratepayers in Western Australia paying a SAR to maintain a public waterway facility.
Funds to the amount of $3.4M have now accumulated in the WRMF. This is virtually ten times the amount that the City is annually taking from the WMRF, albeit with no defined capping. This high balance would indicate that our SAR funds are far in excess for the designated purpose. Furthermore, it is anticipated that with the New Port Geographe development this will grow rapidly by the rating on blocks that indeed have no access to waterways.
A major issue for PGLOA is that we are the only ratepayers in the City of Busselton paying the SAR for a public utility. The general public, in far greater numbers than the Port Geographe ratepayers, use the boat ramps and waterways to gain boating access to Geographe Bay.
PGLOA is not averse to paying the SAR but advocates a number of policy options:
- The user pay principle should apply to the maintenance of public facilities like the launching ramps and parking area.
- At least some of the SAR money, plus the 25% community contributions currently going into the enigmatic Port Geographe Development Reserve Fund, should be diverted to parks and gardens.
- The 25% community contribution be restored to the Waterways Management Reserve Fund.
- There be a pause in the collection of SAR, subject to annual review of coastal management liabilities under the reconfigured groynes.
The PGLOA committee continues to press the City for more equitable outcomes for landowners, as well as better facilities for visitors to Port Geographe. It recognizes this may well require legal or ombudsman examinations of the actions of the City.
The committee is in constant dialogue and communication with senior administrators of the City in regard to our perceived unfairness of the SAR. Some of this correspondence can be viewed at the following links:
170310 Email Mayor to Strapp re SAR 10 Mar 2017
170329 PGLOA reply to Mayor re SAR 29 Mar 2017
170626 PGLOA letter to City re draws from WMR & City response 26 Jun 17
170626 City letter to PGLOA re draws from WMR 26 Jun 2017
170801 PGLOA reply to City re draws from WMR 1 Aug 2017