West Wimmera Shire Council plans 5.5 per cent rate increase

WEST Wimmera Shire Council could increase its municipal rates by 5.5 per cent next financial year.

The proposed increase is in council’s 2014-15 draft budget, released on Wednesday night. 

Shire rates have risen significantly in the past few years with a seven per cent increase in 2013 and 2012 and a 9.9 per cent increase in 2011.

Statutory fees and charges could also increase by 5.5 per cent.

Mayor Ron Hawkins said despite the increase, rates accounted for only $6.4 million of an $18-million budget.

The budget includes $6.24 million for capital works. 

“We have no new borrowing and only minimal debt from the superannuation shortfall,” Cr Hawkins said.

“We have a strong capital works program and we are holding our own with local roads.’’

Cr Hawkins said he would like to see more investment from the State Government to improve C-class roads.

“Despite all the investment in rail, the large majority of West Wimmera grain goes out on roads and it is having an impact,” he said.

“All the money for roads is going to metropolitan areas.

“We are doing our bit but we need more help.”

Corporate and community services manager Venkat Peteti said the budget included a $60,000 surplus.

“There’s not a lot of extra fat in there,” he said.

“As a small rural council, we rely heavily on grants.

“But compared with other councils, we are in a good position.”

Mr Peteti said while fees and charges levied by council would increase, fees for halls would remain the same.

Cr Hawkins said he was confident council was doing a good job.

“It is a ‘steady as you go’ budget,” he said.

Council is seeking public submissions on the draft budget and will adopt a final budget on June 19.

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