Road, pool fund cuts setShire rate rise at 4.63pc

Saskia AdystiGreat Southern Herald

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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