Shire of Plantagenet is seeking to apply for a self-supported loan to fund new fire sheds

Jacob Morgan-de LaineAlbany Advertiser
The current Rocky Gully Bush Fire Brigade  shed.
Camera IconThe current Rocky Gully Bush Fire Brigade shed. Credit: Laurie Benson

Upgrades may be on the way for the Rocky Gully and Woogenellup bush fire brigades as the Shire of Plantagenet council seeks funding to improve outdated facilities.

At their first meeting of the year on Tuesday, councillors supported the proposal that a self-supporting loan be used to fund the construction of the new fire sheds.

Shire of Plantagenet CEO Cameron Woods said the loan would be established with the West Australian Treasury Corporation and serviced by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services through the Local Government Grants Scheme.

Syd Payne Memorial Fire Brigade Depot, Rocky Gully.
Camera IconSyd Payne Memorial Fire Brigade Depot, Rocky Gully. Credit: Laurie Benson

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“All repayments relating to the self-supporting loan would be met by DFES,” he said.

“Therefore, there are minimal financial implications to the council. “However, should DFES default, the loan will become the council’s responsibility.

“Since the inception of the LGGS in 2003/2004, 13 governments have taken out self-supporting loans for the constriction of volunteer bush fire brigade/State Emergency Service facilities.” The new facilities will provide a safe undercover area for appliances, fast-fill trailers, essential protective clothing and equipment, washrooms and training areas.

The required $45,000 for the preparation of the sites will be set aside in the 2023-24 budget, with the loan being used to complete the facilities’ construction.

Cr Len Handasyde, who moved the motion, said previously the Local Government Grants scheme would allocate funds from the Emergency Services Levy, paid by ratepayers.

“This (taking out a loan) is something relatively new. Clearly, funding arrangements have changed,” he said.

“It does allow us to get these structures built. The footprints are more than fit for purpose for both of the fire sheds.”

Cr Brett Bell seconded the motion, saying he would reluctantly support the loan, and the money should be coming to regional areas without an increased burden on ratepayers.

Shire President Chris Pavlovich said the council was caught between a rock and a hard place.

“The fire sheds are normally financed through DFES under the LGGS through the ESL that they charge land owners,” he said.

“That’s been the normal practice up until now. Council has resolved to borrow a loan from the Treasury to permit DFES to build these fire sheds on the basis that we will be compensated for the principal and interest over a 10-year period.

“If the council didn’t support the loan there is a fair chance our community would be disadvantaged if DFES couldn’t fund the infrastructure from their own means.”

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