8 town councils raise service, conservancy charges

SINGAPORE - Half a million residents in estates managed by eight town councils will pay higher service and conservancy charges (S&CC) from April 1.

This is the first increase in 10 years for seven of the town councils - Ang Mo Kio, Marine Parade, Moulmein-Kallang, Nee Soon, Pasir Ris-Punggol, Potong Pasir and Sembawang. The eighth, Jurong Town Council, last raised its charges in 2010.

The overall increase is 50 cents to $13 a month, depending on flat type. The hike will be done in two steps, with the first increase this April and the second, in April next year.

Those living in one- and two-room rental flats will face smaller increases of 50 cents to $2, while those in three-room flats will pay on average $4.60 more; four-room, $6; and five-room, $7.10. The top rate of $13 may be for executive flats or five-room DBSS.

The town councils cited higher electricity, maintenance and operation costs as the main reasons for the hike.

Sembawang Town Council, which announced the increase on Thursday for all eight town councils, said they resisted S&CC increases for 10 years, and even when the inflation rate spiked to 6.6 per cent in 2008.

But it was getting harder to operate at current S&CC rates, with several town councils running into operating deficits, it added.

Electricity accounts for the lion's share of town councils' cost increases.

Utilities make up 35 per cent of operating costs and power tariffs shot up by 66 per cent between 2004 and last month, from 15.44 cents per kilowatt hour to 25.65 cents per kwh.

The town councils also said that most towns have undergone the Lift Upgrading Programme, adding 1,800 new lifts and 3,800 upgraded lifts that stop on every floor. Every new lift in a 12-storey block costs the town council another $3,300 a year to maintain and run.

The eight town councils will spend a total of $7.2 million more a year to upkeep and run these new and upgraded lifts, with costs set to go up as more new lifts are built in the next couple of years.

Maintenance and operation costs will rise further too as more covered walkways, car porches, hard courts, playgrounds and fitness corners are built.

The eight town councils said they were breaking the hike into two parts to reduce its impact on residents.

From April 1, fees for homes will go up by 50 cents to $8.50, depending on flat type. Commercial units will pay 10 cents to 21 cents per sq m more, and cooked food stalls, $9.90 to $15.83 more.

The second hike is from April 1 next year. Home owners will pay up to $6.50 more; commercial units, seven cents to 11 cents more per sq m; cooked food stalls, $9.50 to $12 more.

chinlian@sph.com.sg

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