Council proud of the ‘lowest’ rate

Michael PhilippsSouth Western Times
Donnybrook-Balingup shire councillors vote to endorse a rate increase of 6 per cent.
Camera IconDonnybrook-Balingup shire councillors vote to endorse a rate increase of 6 per cent. Credit: Graphic / South Western Times

Donnybrook-Balingup shire councillors have voted to endorse a rate increase of 6 per cent for the 2018-19 financial year.

Shire president Brian Piesse said the increase would equate to ratepayers paying the equivalent of an extra $2 per week.

“Despite the shire arguably having the lowest rate in the dollar in the greater South West, it continues to deliver services, programs and projects comparable to its neighbours,” he said.

“It was unfortunate that traditionally the focus has always been on the comparative general rate increase ‘league ladder’, which is quite removed from the reality of the rate in the dollar of rateable unimproved and improved values.”

Mr Piesse said being the lowest rating shire in the South West was not a position the council could sustain indefinitely.

“At some stage, we must have the courage to rebuild our reserves and bring resilience to our financial wellbeing,” he said.

Shire chief executive officer Ben Rose said not all of the council’s revenue came from rates.

“As a proportion of overall revenue, the Shire of Donnybrook-Balingup’s rates account for only circa one-third of all revenue for shire income, with the remaining two-thirds chiefly coming from State and Federal grants,” he said.

“Most of our South West local government cousins have rates revenue proportions more towards 50 per cent and 60 per cent.

“Sitting at the one-third mark leaves our shire in a vulnerable position in relation to ongoing financial health and sustainability.”

Mr Piesse said there were a number of ongoing projects that had already been funded for the shire.

“There are some exciting major projects already funded and on the drawing board for the next two years, such as the $3.125 million Bridge Street Housing project, the $2 million Donnybrook Townsite Revitalisation project and the $200,000 Balingup Town Hall upgrade,” he said.

“We have also moved to invest in a more proactive local business enhancement and tourism strategy and provided for specific resources to intensify our ability to optimise external funding outcomes, improve asset management, projects and community deliverables.”

Mr Piesse said the council had moved to implement an equalisation of the minimum rates between townsite and rural properties over the next two years.

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