Shire of Denmark residents are facing a six per cent rates hike in a draft annual budget which proposes an $11,000 pay rise for its Shire president. Councillors will vote on the shire’s 2021-22 draft budget next week, with total rates revenue set to increase by about $600,000, while combined employee costs would rise by about $380,000. This week, the City of Albany adopted a 1.5 per cent increase in rates, while the Shire of Plantagenet is proposing a three per cent increase. It leaves a significant gap between the rates changes proposed by the Shire of Denmark and its Great Southern neighbours, after all three council froze their rates for the previous financial year. But chief executive David Schober said that this year’s draft annual budget sought to “restore the balance” after the shire left rates on hold last year. “Last year the Shire had no rating increase, in fact it provided discounts in some rating categories,” he said. “If you compare the 2020-21 rates to the 2019-20 rates you will see the Shire collected less income and thus provided relief back to the community. “The Shire also returned significant financial contributions by way of additional programs and support through COVID at no additional rate increase. “The increase this year seeks to restore the balance in order to support more community infrastructure and should be considered in the context of the last two years.” The rates rise would take the minimum rate to $1163 for gross rental valuation properties and $1424 for rural unimproved valuation properties. In Perth, local governments such as the City of Perth, City of Swan, City of Subiaco and City of Melville have voted in favour of a zero per cent rates rise for 2021-22. The Shire of Denmark’s 2021-22 budget also proposes a 20 per cent rate increase for holiday homes to “assist in meeting the additional costs associated with providing tourism related infrastructure and services”. A $70 waste services fee, amounting to $1.35 a week, would be introduced to help fund upgrades to the Denmark Waste Management Facility and run feasibility studies on Food Organics, Garden Organics. And sporting organisations are facing increased hire fees at McLean Park under the proposed budget. Denmark Walpole Football Club’s total special hire fees at McLean Park would increase by more than $1500, while Denmark Cricket Club’s fees would increase by more than $1000. “These seasonal charges relate to usage. The more clubs elect to use facilities, like ovals and lights, the greater the running costs and therefore the greater the seasonal hire fee,” Mr Schober said. “In essence it is up to the clubs how much they utilise the facilities. The Shire only charges cost recovery plus a small margin for asset maintenance and repairs.” Meanwhile, Denmark councillors are set for pay rise, with a $15,000 proposed increase in combined remuneration for the nine elected members. The Shire president’s allowance would increase by more than $11,000, bringing their total pay to $38,351. The president’s position, currently held by Councillor Ceinwen Gearon, will be up for determination in October after the local government elections. In the City of Albany, Cr Gearon’s counterpart Mayor Dennis Wellington is set to receive total pay of $137,269 in 2021-22. “Elected Members contribute an enormous amount of time and energy on behalf of the community,” Mr Schober said. “The Shire President in Denmark will generally work in excess of 40 hours per week on council related business. “A tier three local government has a maximum annual allowance of $36,957. You will note that the draft budget allowance is only $23,957, which is $13,000 less than the maximum. “Most tier three local governments will pay 80-100 per cent of the maximum in order to reimburse Shire presidents for the enormous amount of time they invest.” In a statement in the draft annual budget, Cr Gearon said the 2021-22 financial year was “about getting things done”. “Following the disruption of COVID-19 in the previous financial year, we are now looking to the future with projects and initiatives set forth to support and enhance lives and businesses in Denmark,” Cr Gearon said. “The biggest ticket item for the year ahead is the continued progression of the Ocean Beach Recreation Precinct upgrades. “While we await news of our application to the Building Better Regions Fund, we have a suite of capital works projects on our radar for 2021-2022, including continued works on our roads network, building of footpaths and the first stage of the surf club redevelopment.” The budget contains $4 million in funding for the surf club precinct redevelopment, including more than $2 million in grants. The shire is expecting to receive $1.5m of government disaster recovery funding to help repair damage caused by wild weather over the past two years. Cr Gearon said the budget had a focus on renewable energy project, including the re-use of grey water to irrigate McLean Park. “This year’s budget continues to support the community through contributions, donations and subsidies, with funding allocated to support community groups and events within our Shire,” Cr Gearon said. “Council recognises the importance of this investment within our community and the vital role these organisations and events play in the everyday lives of our residents.” The council will vote on the draft 2021-22 budget on Tuesday.