Bridgetown-Greenbushes Shire council vote to increase rates to 8.52 per cent over the next two years

Jacinta CantatoreManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Bridgetown-Greenbushes Shire council voted unanimously on Thursday to increase rates by 8.52 per cent over the next two years.
Camera IconBridgetown-Greenbushes Shire council voted unanimously on Thursday to increase rates by 8.52 per cent over the next two years. Credit: News Regional Media

Bridgetown-Greenbushes Shire council voted unanimously on Thursday to increase rates by 8.52 per cent over the next two years, a decision which has almost doubled the figure advertised to ratepayers in May.

But Shire president Jenny Mountford has quashed speculation that pay rises for councillors — including a 167 per cent pay rise to herself — were behind the rates rise.

She said pay rises to herself and other councillors had already been taken into account before the original 5.85 per cent rate rise was released for public comment in May.

Cr Mountford said the Shire has experienced “explosive growth” over the past two years, both through tourism and new residents to the area.

“It comes at a cost to the organisation in terms of pressure on existing workforce, and that resulted in a complete review of the organisation structure,” Cr Mountford said.

This staffing restructure led the Shire to employ three new staff members across the organisation, creating an additional $199,746 in employee costs, creating a revised budget deficit of $5.189 million.

These additional costs were only brought to council at the June 30 meeting, after the original rates amount were put out for comment.

The 6.95 per cent increase is 1.1 per cent more than the 5.85 per cent rate rise the council released for public comment in May.

“So to meet that cost, we had to add an additional 2.67 per cent to the rate increase to cover those costs,” she said.

If the increase was to be absorbed into this year’s budget, it would have left ratepayers forking out on an extra $83 on average

Council made the decision at the July 14 special council meeting to split the costs over two rated years.

This year will see a rates increase of 6.95 per cent, or an increase of $68 on average, taking the average residential rates to $1048.

The previous rates increase of 5.85 per cent which would have equated to $1037 a year, or a $57 a year increase from the 2021/22 financial year.

Cr Mountford said he council had voted on June 30 to increase remuneration packages to councillors, including the Shire president and the deputy president.

The council voted to adopt a remuneration structure that would pay all councillors at 60 per cent of what is recommended for shires of that size, or Band 3 level.

While the increase is minimal for ordinary council members, it will take the Shire president’s salary from about $20,000 to about $40,000.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails