Portland Alcoa rates to be slashed by 30 per cent

Rate relief: Portland Alcoa's rate bill will be cut by 30 per cent.
Rate relief: Portland Alcoa's rate bill will be cut by 30 per cent.

Portland Alcoa’s rate bill could be slashed by about $1.3m if Glenelg Shire Council’s proposed budget is approved.

However, shire chief executive officer Greg Burgoyne said the council was still in negotiations with Alcoa over its rate agreement for the new financial year.

“The draft 2017-18 budget is currently on public exhibition noting that the Alcoa rate agreement is set at a predicted charge of $3 million – this is a reduction of 30 per cent on last year’s rate agreement,” Mr Burgoyne said.

“Alcoa is our shire’s largest employer, and the state’s biggest exporter, and it is critical that this company is provided support as we acknowledge the difficult global circumstances it faces.”

The news comes after the company was thrown a $30 million lifeline from the federal government in January to keep the plant open.

The deal also included a four-year power deal with AGL and a state government contribution which was believed to be worth $200 million. The future of the plant had been thrown into doubt after a subsidised power deal ended in November last year and power outage in December caused significant disruption.

Operations at the smelter were cut to one-third of its capacity following the transmission fault that cut power to its pot lines, and many staff were forced to take leave over Christmas. The smelter is estimated to injected more than $120 million to the south-west economy. 

Mr Burgoyne said the council had delivered a prudent budget for its ratepayers, ensuring it continue to provide the best services for our community while keeping rate rises to a minimum.

“The proposed two per cent rate rise is still below the state government’s rate capping of 2.5 per cent as Glenelg continues to deliver among Victoria’s lowest rate increases.”

The $49.6 million proposed budget includes a $7.6 million allocation for improving local roads with $400,000 for bridge renewals and maintenance.

A total of $2.6 million will be spent on our local parks, open spaces and streetscapes with a further $1.6 million investment in recreation and community facilities. Portland’s iconic town jetty will be replaced and the Casterton Structure Plan implemented as part of a $1.6 million budget share.

“Council is continuing to focus on identifying sustainable cost savings across the organisation whilst not hindering the delivery of high quality, responsible and accessible services to the community,” Mr Burgoyne said.

He said the council was committed to ensuring this infrastructure supported the continued growth in the region by promoting investment in the local economy which created jobs.