Capel ratepayers infuriated by rate increase

South Western Times

The Gelorup Community Hall was overflowing with Capel Shire ratepayers infuriated with proposed rate increases on Wednesday night, with a decision to be made by council at a special meeting tonight.

Meeting organiser and Gelorup Rise resident Neill Rowlandson estimated 250 ratepayers attended the meeting to oppose an up to 11.2 per cent rate in the dollar increase across residential properties and up to a 28.63 per cent increase for some special rural properties – equalling $415 for Mr Rowlandson.

The officer preparing the report recommended a 50 per cent discount in annual refuse site charges to cushion the increase, which chief executive officer Paul Sheedy said would reduce the increase to an average of 2.7 per cent and six per cent in residential areas and 20 per cent for special rural residents.

Mr Rowlandson said for years the shire had been consistent in justifying the special rural discount because of a lack of amenities available, but were now saying it did not count.

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“We don’t have street lighting, we don’t have footpaths, we don’t have storm water drainage or curbing and channelling, we don’t have public transport , we don’t have local parks, gardens and playgrounds,” he said.

“When the council put up the differential ratesIn the year’s gone past they put up a document called ‘objects and reasons’– it’s clearly stated in there why they have a different rate and all of a sudden they are abandoning that concept.”

Mr Rowlandson said seven of the nine councillors were in attendance, with two sending official apologies due to other commitments.

Capel Shire CEO Paul Sheedy
Camera IconCapel Shire CEO Paul Sheedy Credit: Supplied

He said supporting the increases would be “political suicide” for the councillors due for re-election next year and hoped they would “see reason and don’t vote for this proposal”.

“It’s unacceptable – there were people who spoke last night, one guy was a self funded retiree – his income has not gone up for 10 years,” he said.

“He is living on his superannuation and yet he is being faced with this ... it’s just unsustainable.

“It’s a major issue and they have to listen to the ratepayers.”

Instead, Mr Rowlandson put forward a resolution for the council to “retain the method of differential rating and that the rate yield for 2018-19 be limited to three per cent year on year” at the meeting, to which “everybody’s hands went up” in agreement.

He was also concerned ratepayers had not been presented a budget.

“How can they seek a revenue stream without the ratepayers being able to see what is in the budget?,” Mr Rowlandson said.

“What we are suggesting is the council go back and look at cutting out some of their unrealistic and unsustainable projects for a couple of years.

Council president Murray Scott “took his hat off” to Mr Rowlandson for organising the meeting and said he had listened to what concerned community members has to say.

“We always take on board what the community want – they don’t think so, but we do listen to them,” Mr Murray said.

“Neill rang me about it and I said I was not there to make comment, I was there to listen – same as the other councillors except for one.

“All in all they were happy with the outcome, they were happy we were there listening and we will make the decision tonight.”

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