Shire's Long Term Financial Plan delivers

Photo: Shire of Esperance.
Photo: Shire of Esperance.

The Shire of Esperance has delivered its Long Term Financial Plan for the next decade amid calls to cap rates and reassess spending.

The forum was organised by council after a motion was moved by the Esperance Ratepayers Association during the 2018 Electors Meeting to cap rates at the CPI of 2.5 per cent.

Instead, council resolved to review the long-term plan, consider the impact of capping the rates at CPI on budgets, assets and service delivery and run a community forum prior to its endorsement.

With more than 100 residents having supported the original motion, Shire president Victoria Brown said she was disappointed to see just five members of the public attend the forum.

The ten-year plan contains proposed rate increases of 3.75 per cent from next financial year until 2022-23, before decreasing to 2.75 per cent until 2027-28 - the lowest rise since 1998.

The budget included allocations for a number of major projects, including a new dog pound, a three bin system, the new waste facility and a $10 million Library and Cultural Precinct.

Shire Corporate Services director Shane Burge explained the annual costs associated with maintaining the shire's $500 million worth of assets, 70 per cent of which is the shire's 4500 km road network.

When long-term financial planning became compulsory for local governments in 2013, Mr Burge said the shire discovered an underspend of $8.6 million a year and opted to rectify the gap by reducing assets, reviewing service levels and increasing funding.

"Many local governments bury their heads in the sand but our council decided that that wasn't good enough," he said.

"We have people who accuse councillors of being self-interested and the like but it's actually the exact opposite.

"We have councillors that are essentially prepared to sacrifice themselves in the public because they want long term benefits for this community.

"If anything, we should be applauding our councillors - that's my view."

The plan is expected to reach council for endorsement on Tuesday, May 28.

For the full story, see Friday's edition of the Esperance Express.