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Lake Leschenaultia is also under scrutiny for possible Shire cutbacks.

Taking an axe to services

THE Shire of Mundaring is considering axing a wide range of services and programs under a plan to lower rate increases and the community is invited to have their say.

The proposal will see the forecast rates increase of five percent in 2017-18, reduced to around three percent.

This equates to an average estimated increase of $45 per year per household as opposed to $75 per year per household (for the average residential rates).

The areas identified for consideration by councillors include new infrastructure, under-utilised facilities, events, community services and the possibility of outsourcing commercial activities.

One of the more controversial proposals is the possible closure of Lake Leschenaultia, or at least the outsourcing of some of its operations.

The total operating expenditure as forecast for 2016/17 is estimated at $764,784.

This includes lake operations, maintenance, landscaping, grounds and buildings, salaries, administration, telephone utilities, and safety equipment ($367,179).

Commercial operations such as canoe hire, camping and the café would be $340,879, with depreciation of the site at $56,726.

After expenditure, Shire President David Lavell said the net operating income would come to $402,784.

Events such as the annual Trek the Trail walking and cycling event along the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail, which currently costs $42,000 per annum, would be shelved.

The popular trek generally attracts about 1500 to 2000 participants per event.

The Tree Canopy and Understorey Program, which offers residents free locally grown seedlings, could also be axed.

The cull will cost local nurseries some shire business but the program is forecast to save about $90,000 dollars per year.

Councillors have also identified many other services that may be affected, during recent workshops.

These include a reduction in library services, with a staggered closure of one day a week at the Albert Facey Memorial Library in Mundaring and the Katharine Susannah Prichard Library in Boya.

This proposal is expected to increase waiting times for services.

No figures were provided by the shire.

Ratepayers in Mt Helena would also be forced to travel an extra 16km to use the Bilgoman Aquatic Centre.

The management and maintenance of the Mt Helena Aquatic and Recreation Centre would be handed back to the Department of Education.

These facilities are currently licensed to the shire for use ouside of school hours.

The proposals could also see the closure of the Mahogany Creek Hall. Cr Lavell said the hall was under used and there was only six regular bookings.

He said the average cost over 10 years including maintenance and planned upgrades was $28,000 per annum.

“This figure excludes disability access upgrades and asbestos removal, but does not include costs associated with closing the hall at this stage.”

Residents would be encouraged to use other halls in Mundaring, Glen Forrest and Parkerville.

Shire maintenance contributions towards the tennis courts at Mahogany Creek, Chidlow and Wooroloo, which are owned by the Department of Education, would stop and save approximately $20,000 per year.

The number of improvements to storm water systems that protect roads from flooding each year would halve along with the number of new footpaths.

The $50 cat and dog sterilisation rebates would also cease.

In 2015-16, this rebate cost the shire $8000 per annum with 204 people receiving it.

Tourism destination and marketing development would also be restricted to visitor serving and training opportunities for councillors would be reduced.

The proposals to cut or cease some shire services follows a series of workshops recently held by councillors to prioritise areas in which they believe a reduction in services could help achieve lower rate increases with as little negative impact as possible.

The council has asked chief executive officer Jonathan Throssell to prepare a comprehensive report on ways to deliver the proposed reductions in identified areas, while taking into account key factors, such as costs, risks and the impact on the community.

The results will then be considered by Mundaring councillors at ongoing workshops.

The shire is interested to hear the community’s views on the direction council is proposing with regard to rates and the reduction of service levels.

Community engagement will start shortly.

Queries and comments can be made via email to shire@mundaring.wa.gov.au

By Michelle Beaven

About Michelle Beaven

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