The Shire of Chittering has adopted its 2016-2017 budget, which provides vital services for residents and continued investment in new and existing community infrastructure. Importantly, Council has delivered on its commitment to control costs and deliver an affordable and responsible rate increase at a time of economic uncertainty.
Council’s Shire President, Cr Gordon Houston, said “The Shire recognises the stress which tough economic conditions have placed on residents and families, so Council’s rates and charges must reflect that”.
The revenue collected by Council through rates has seen an overall increase of 1.5%, which is in line with expected growth in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Due to a number of variables such as interim valuations and assessment growth, this will not necessarily mean that an individual rates assessment will increase by this exact amount.
The average residence can expect an increase of between 1.6 and 1.8%. For example, for a property with a rate bill of $2,200 in the last financial year, a 1.8% increase equates to $40, or 76 cents per week. Cr Houston said that “this is the one of the lowest rate increases of any Council in the State and reflects the commitment of Council to control costs and expenditure”.
In 2015-2016, Council granted a concession to those properties that were affected by the change in rating method (UV to GRV) where no property rates increased by more than $300 from the previous year. This concession is not being granted this year and will have an effect on some ratepayers who will see an outlay of more than the average increase.
Council’s salary budget is now less than it was in 2014. Chittering Shire has the lowest staff to resident ratio in the northern Wheatbelt region with one staff member for every 112 residents – some others have staff to resident ratios as high as one for every 50 residents.
Vehicle/fleet expenditure has been put on hold to allow for a full review of that area of Council operations. Surplus vehicles and plant will be disposed of in the coming months generating additional revenue and minimising ongoing operating costs.
As part of the 2016-2017 budget Council is also putting aside funds in reserves for future projects. “It’s the same as saving for a deposit on your house”, Cr Houston said. “If you put aside money for significant expenditure, then you don’t have to borrow money and pay interest. For example, Council is in the process of completing a Regional Sports and Community Centre Feasibility Study. We expect that this study will prove a need for new facilities and it makes sense to save for that now”.
Council’s capital works program provides funding for a range of projects, including;
- The long awaited renewal / upgrade of Binda Place
- Reconstruction and resealing of a section of Chittering Road
- Installation of safety barriers on sections of Chittering Road
- Black Spot projects on Julimar, Blue Plains and Wandena Roads
- Extension of the footpath works on Ridgetop Ramble
- Road works on Morley Road, Spice Road, Orchard Road, Learners Way, Owen Road, Perry Road, Carl Street, Humphrey Street and Hay Flat Road
- Bridge works on Blizzard Road and design of a new crossing on Flat Rocks Road
- Drainage works at Sussex Bend/Murray Grey Circle
- Construction of a new pavilion at the Muchea Hall
- A contribution towards new cricket practice wickets at Bindoon Oval
- Works at the Brockman Centre (water tanks and feature gardens)
- New pergola for the Arts and Craft building at the Brockman Centre
- Shaded covered BBQ seating at John Glenn Park
A high priority for Council has been to improve communications and access to broadband services within the Shire for residents and ratepayers. “Council has successfully lobbied for State / Federal funding to fix telecommunication blackspots and recognises that access to modern technology is now an essential part of daily life and makes a substantial contribution to community safety and economic development. This long overdue infrastructure will improve access for everyone in our community”, Cr Houston said.
Funds continue to be allocated for Community Grants and Sponsorship. Council is pleased to be able to continue its support of local projects and is looking forward to seeing the outcomes achieved by the successful groups. Council also remains committed to providing a number of community events and programs, through financial and staff support of a range of initiatives such as Taste of Chittering, Wear Ya Wellies and school holiday activities.
Shire President, Cr Gordon Houston, said that “preparation of the annual budget was a challenging process due to the varied and complex demands placed on local Councils. It’s not just about roads, rates and rubbish, it’s about providing public buildings, sporting and recreational facilities, tourism services, economic development, events, land use planning and many other services which the community relies on”.
In adopting the budget Cr Houston noted that “this is a responsible budget which reflects the tough economic times, but which provides for the continued maintenance and renewal of critical assets including roads and community infrastructure. It reflects Council’s commitment to its residents to control and reduce costs. It is also a budget which involves saving and planning for the future. We hope to build on this by providing cost effective services into the future and identifying and funding those projects which are essential to our growing community”.
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For further information please contact;
- Finance: Jean Sutherland, Executive Manager Corporate Services
- Rates: Veronica Robinson, Rates Officer
on 9576 4600 or via firstname.lastname@example.org. This media statement has no regulatory value.