WEST Wimmera Shire will apply for a rates rise of 3.5 per cent every year to 2020-21, starting at 1.5 percentage points above the rates rise cap.
The state government has set an inflation-based cap of 2 per cent for all local governments for the upcoming financial year.
West Wimmera councillors voted unanimously to apply to the Essential Services Commission for successive rates rises based on a long-term plan to keep the shire financially sustainable.
A report by West Wimmera corporate and community services acting general manager Ashley Roberts stated that the council’s financial stability, service levels and assets were at risk.
“Council has demonstrated that it faces significant asset renewal requirements over the coming years. Council is also experiencing recurring operating losses,” the report stated.
“These two items combined put Council at risk of becoming financially unsustainable if sufficient funding is not obtained.
“Council was preparing a Long Term Financial Plan which called for sustained rate increases of 3.5 per cent per annum over ten years to sufficiently fund these issues.”
The report stated that West Wimmera made significant efforts to make savings of $107,000 in one year, which was not enough to bridge the gap.
“Council still is not at a point where it will meet its longer term renewal requirements without requiring cutbacks to its ongoing service delivery,” Ms Roberts stated.
“Council has considered borrowings, however it is not good business practice to borrow funds to renew existing service potential.”
The report stated that West Wimmera had a rates level of 0.41 per cent of property value compared to the statewide average of 0.47.
West Wimmera Shire held community consultation sessions about a possible rates cap exemption application at Kaniva and Edenhope.
West Wimmera’s previous rates rise was 2.5 per cent, within the cap at that time.