Shire of Harvey residents could face a potential rate rise of 7 per cent following a special council meeting which revealed the region as one of the lowest for rate payments in the South West according to an external report. On Tuesday, July 5 the Shire of Harvey held a special council meeting to discuss the upcoming rate increase — due to be decided later this month. Though high, the potential 7 per cent rate rise would still place the Harvey Region on the lower end of the general and minimum rate spectrum compared with other South West Cities and Shires according to a rating strategy report by accounting firm R J Back and Associates. Using last financial year’s rate numbers collected from 11 different South West Shires and Cities the report revealed the Harvey Shire to be one of the lowest, even with a 7 per cent increase. Shire of Harvey director of corporate services Dean Winter said at the meeting the aim of Back’s report was to look at whether there was any justification to introduce a differential general rate — on either commercial, industrial, properties or vacant land. “If each of the (11) local governments, assume, was to increase their rates by 4 per cent and we were to increase our rates by 7 per cent, we would still be rating our ratepayers less,” Mr Winter said. “If you look at the (rate) minimums and completed the same exercise, you will see that the majority of those local governments are still, with a 7 per cent rate increase, more expensive (than the Shire of Harvey) with their minimum rates with the exclusion of, Collie, Boddington and Mandurah.” Met with little debate from councillors the rating strategy was carried unanimously. However, when discussing a potential cut to early payment discounts — from 5.5 per cent to 3 per cent — Cr Craig Carbone said he was not happy with the discount cut. “We have reduced the discount from 5½ per cent to 3 that, in essence, is a rate increase as well,” he said. The reduction in discounts means the Shire of Harvey — the only South West shire to offer a discount — will save about $400,000, while ratepayers will receive around a $36 discount for paying their rates early according to the Shire’s manager of finance Sunil Chopra. “Supposing the rate is around $1200 ... it will be $36 (discount),” he said. A final decision on rate increases within the Shire of Harvey will be made at an ordinary council meeting to be held on July 26.