SINGAPORE — The 15 town councils run by the People’s Action Party (PAP) will raise service and conservancy charges (S&CC) by S$1 to S$17 per month by June next year. The increase, which applies to people living in one-room to executive public flats, will take place over two rounds to cushion the impact on residents, announced the PAP town councils on Friday (Feb 17).
The first round of increases will take place on June 1, and one-room to executive flat owners will have to pay S$0.50 to S$9 more each month for S&CC. The next round of increases that will take place on June 1 next year, will see flat owners pay another S$0.50 to S$8 more per month, depending on flat type.
But exactly how much more households in each type of flat have to pay will be revealed next month at the earliest, as the increases will be gazetted before the town councils send out individual notices to their residents, TODAY understands.
The last S&CC hikes took place in 2014 and 2015, with eight PAP town councils increasing S&CC by S$1 to S$15 per month for households over two rounds. The seven other PAP town councils last announced S&CC increases in 2012.
Currently, most Singaporean flat owners pay about S$19.50 to about S$88 per month for S&CC. The charges help to pay for town council cleaners’ wages, pest control, the maintenance and replacement of lifts, among other things.
Charges vary across town councils because of differences in each town council’s housing blocks and amenities, operating expenditures and residents’ needs, said the PAP town councils. “Thus, each town council will send out individual notices to their residents to inform them of the new rates in due course,” they said in a statement.
Many netizens and Singaporeans questioned if the increases were justifiable and lamented that the cost of other items, such as water, was also going up. Some wondered if the S&CC increases would lead to better wages for foreign cleaners hired by town councils, while others did not feel their estates were clean enough.
“Nobody wants prices to go up. It’s taxing, because the economy is also not doing well,” said a Jalan Tenteram resident who only wanted to be known as Mr Kwek, 58.
Mr Kwek, a contractor who lives in a three-room flat, also felt S&CC should not go up if the lifts in his block keep breaking down. He was once stuck in a lift with his wife for three hours.
Supply chain executive He Shuhui, 36, said she could afford an increase of perhaps S$10 a month, but did not feel it was warranted. Technology could play a greater role in estate management, and the four-room flat dweller suggested that town councils could clean all common areas more evenly, instead of “only cleaning one place (like the void deck) every day and other places (such as staircases) once in a blue moon”.
The PAP town councils said they are “continually looking at ways” to control operating expenditures to keep S&CC affordable to residents.
Despite additional grants from the Ministry of National Development, the price adjustments are needed to “keep up with rising costs associated with maintaining our estates”, they said. Cleaning costs, which make up 20 per cent of annual expenditure, have increased over the years as cleaning companies spend more on mechanisation, training and progressive wages for staff. Pest and vector control costs are also rising as town councils conduct more treatments at common areas, they said.
The S&CC increases will enable the town councils to build up sinking funds to replace old lifts, do cyclical maintenance, and carry out the Lift Enhancement Programme. The town councils will work with other agencies to help residents who cannot pay their S&CC.
Commercial property owners and tenants will also have to pay more S&CC – 14 to 48 cents more per square metre per month over two rounds. Market and food stalls will pay S$5.20 to S$40.50 more per month.
The Aljunied-Hougang Town Council, run by the Workers’ Party, said it is studying the matter and will make an announcement in due course.