Road, pool fund cuts set Shire rate rise at 4.63pc

Great Southern Herald - - News - Saskia Adysti

I am con­cerned that we will be head­ing for a sim­i­lar fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion that we had 12 years ago. Cr Richard Kowald

After four coun­cil meet­ings and on­go­ing re­view of the town’s bud­get, the Shire of Katan­ning has de­cided to in­crease the town’s rates by 4.63 per cent this year.

The mo­tion was car­ried after seven coun­cil­lors voted in sup­port of the pro­posed rise, with Crs Martin Van Kolden Hoven and Richard Kowald the only two who voted against.

The rates changes came about after sev­eral events which im­pacted the bud­get sig­nif­i­cantly.

One el­e­ment is the di­rect road grant re­duc­tion from Main Roads, which has led to a loss of $48,556 in the Shire’s road main­te­nance. The re­moval of com­mu­nity pools re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion grant has also led to a $32,000 loss.

On top of that, an in­crease in util­ity bills — 10.9 per cent in elec­tric­ity bill and 6 per cent in­crease in wa­ter charges — had also been a factor in the new rates.

Cr Kowald voted against the mo­tion, say­ing he thought a 4.63 per cent rates in­crease might not be enough to cover the Shire’s fu­ture needs.

Cr Kowald, who has been a coun­cil­lor for the past 12 years and was pre­vi­ously Shire pres­i­dent for four years, said in the past, the coun­cil had de­cided to carry a zero per cent rate in­crease, which then af­fected the ca­pa­bil­ity to ap­ply for grants.

“I am con­cerned that we will be head­ing for a sim­i­lar fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion that we had 12 years ago,” Cr Kowald said.

“If this hap­pens, then that is not a good legacy to leave for fu­ture coun­cils.”

Cr Martin van Kolden Hoven said he was con­cerned with the cur­rent con­di­tion of re­tail busi­ness in the com­mu­nity.

He said he un­der­stood every­one in the com­mu­nity was strug­gling fi­nan­cially.

His rec­om­men­da­tion was for the coun­cil to start ask­ing gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions in town to pay equal rates with the town folks.

“There are a lot of or­gan­i­sa­tions in town that get Shire helps but not pay­ing any rates — the ratepay­ers are the one get­ting the tabs,” Cr Kolden Hoven said.

Shire pres­i­dent Liz Guidera said this year the bud­get had gone through mul­ti­ple eval­u­a­tions.

Ms Guidera said the Shire had agreed on the best pos­si­ble bud­get.

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