Esperance Ratepayers Association has called on the Local Government Minister to intervene, following the Esperance Shire Council’s announcement of a 4.45 per cent rates rise.
The Esperance Shire Council agreed to endorse the proposed increase for the 2018/2019 budget during a general meeting of council on May 22, after the motion was carried 4-2.
At a meeting held by the association on June 4, spokesperson Kaj Knieukerke assessed the proposed rates against previous years, with the minimum rate of $855 in 2013 having increased by 35 per cent.
“To make a comparison, the minimum rate in 2013 was $855 and now, in 2018, it is set to be $1124,” he said.
“It equates roughly to a 6 per cent increase each year and, on average, we’re paying four per cent over inflation.
“I’ve had a look through the Long Term Financial Plan and I want to know if people understand what they’re being asked to accept?”
Mr Knieukerke questioned whether council understood the implications of what they were approving and said the financial plan would benefit from an independent review.
“What seems to be lacking is creating a budget that reflects what is happening in the town,” he said.
“We need to address some of the discrepancies, some of the things that are worrying us, and take them to the local government minister.”
Attendees also debated whether the proposal should have been carried with just two thirds of council present, given the impact of the increase on the community.
Shire president Victoria Brown said the rise would give the community everything they’re enjoying at the moment, the operational side of running the organisation and services.
“The revenue that is raised from the rate increase will go on our rural road network and our infrastructure because this council has been very focused on embracing the Long Term Financial Plan,” she said.
“We want to close the asset management gap and correct the error of not spending enough on assets in the past.”
Local Government minister David Templeman said although councils were independent, democratically elected organisations, he did expect them to consider the economic climate.
“Given the current economic climate, I would expect some restraint from the sector in relation to rate increases,” he said.