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Half of the council will be newcomers come next week.

Shire takes the lead on rates decision

By Claire Ottaviano

THE financial future of the Shire of Mundaring will be decided during an emergency Special Council Meeting tonight.

Council are voting to approve the preparation of the 2020/21 annual budget with no rate revenue increase or increase to fees and charges.

The recommendation also includes approving a six-month freeze on all lease payments from local community organisations and flexible options for all payments to the Shire, including rates.

The meeting, conducted via video conference and closed to the public for health reasons, is being held to determine Council’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

In an announcement on Tuesday evening, the Shire said a broadcast of the meeting would be available on its website by midday tomorrow, Friday, April 3.

The agenda, made available last night, said the current long term financial plan forecasted a 2.80 per cent rates increase for 2020-21.

This would have raised $815,000 in additional income.

Similarly, a 20 per cent decrease to fees and charges, such as facility hire and statutory services in 2020/21, would see a $230,000 loss, impacting the 2021/22 budget.

The report said there was “significant risk” a zero per cent rate increase would see a reduction in services.

“In addition, a rate increase lower than originally forecast in the long term financial plan will significantly impact the Shire’s ability deliver the Strategic Community Plan, Corporate Business Plan and supporting strategies in 2020-21 and future years,” the report said.

“Combined with the identification of savings resulting from such measures as reducing non-essential work and not undertaking projects or activities which do not contribute to local relief and recovery efforts, judicious use of the Shire’s Financial Reserves is an option for consideration, which will be explored and discussed with Council in the upcoming budget workshops.”

Potential budget cuts will not be known until the draft budget process, although some community groups have already received letters notifying of a hold on the Shire’s community grants program.

President John Daw said due to social distancing restrictions, members of the public were not be able to attend the Special Council Meeting in person.

“These are unusual times and we understand this is not a great deal of notice,” Cr Daw said.

“This meeting will confirm our initial responses, although I anticipate there will be further measures identified and implemented as this crisis continues.”

Council also met for a workshop on Monday to discuss the options.

The Shire is also the first  in the region to make a move to solidify its stance on rate increases.

Down the hill in the City of Swan, Mayor Kevin Bailey forecasted a freeze on rates via video message on the City’s Facebook page on Tuesday.

He said Council was working to prepare a budget with a zero per cent rate rise for 2020/21, however that will form part of upcoming budget deliberations mid-year.

Similarly, City of Kalamunda Mayor Margaret Thomas said the City would consider ways to help ratepayers, including implementing a rates freeze, “over the coming months”.

It is understood the City is planning to hold a Special Council meeting on the same issue next week.

Members of the public must provide any questions in writing using the public question time submission form and email it to shire@mundaring.wa.gov.au by 4pm today.

 

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