Budget tips 3.5% rates rise

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter

Harvey Shire Council will tonight vote to adopt its draft budget for the next financial year, spelling a rise of 3.5 per cent on general rates.

The increase will set the minimum rates at $1080 per property.

The figure is one per cent higher than last year’s 2.5 per cent increase, which saw minimum rates set at $1043 per property.

Shire chief executive officer Annie Riordan said the increase and 2019/20 shire budget had been formulated in a subdued economic climate with tight fiscal constraints impacting all three tiers of government.

Despite the setbacks, she believed the rates increase provided scope for significant investment in road, drainage and footpath construction, as well as other key community projects.

“Many significant infrastructure projects have been included, which reflect the needs of our growing population and the many communities in our shire,” Ms Riordan said.

“This has been achieved in delivering a balanced budget whilst keeping the increase in general rates to 3.5 per cent.”

Ms Riordan said the council’s sound financial position would allow it to absorb some of the economic challenges while continuing to provide key community services and develop necessary infrastructure.

She credited the council’s forward planning and ability to acquire grant funding as a key factor in keeping rates steady.

“The shire’s forward planning and capacity to leverage grant funding by utilising its specific reserve accounts has enabled it to budget for major projects without impacting significantly on rates increases in individual years,” she said.

Major projects in the draft budget include funding towards the construction of the Yarloop Community Centre, the Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade station in Binningup, the State Emergency Services Centre in Australind, the Harvey Sporting Pavilion and the next stage of the Brunswick River Cottages precinct.

The budget also includes construction of the Ridley Place Playground along with other construction projects throughout the shire.

Funding has also been allocated towards progressing the planning of the Harvey Civic Precinct.

In a report to the council, finance manager Dean Winter said the draft 2019/20 budget document resulted in a “balanced budget position” for the shire.

The report outlined a budget aimed at creating balance between the “tightness of the economy” while continuing to provide community needs, services and facilities.

“This budget seeks to deliver a responsible outcome based on the prevailing economic conditions, whilst balancing community expectations, sound asset management and the retention of services,” Ms Riordan said.

Tonight’s vote will require an absolute majority for the budget to be adopted by the council.

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