Sport centre debt cripples shire budget

Shire of Toodyay’s new $14 million recreation precinct – many ratepayers wanted only a pool. 

By Michael Sinclair-Jones

TOODYAY ratepayers face years of rising costs and economic hardship caused by a 2017 council decision to build a new $14 million recreation centre and pool without the means to pay for it.

The shire’s new 2020-21 budget shows that this financial year’s operating costs will exceed regular income by $2.6 million despite drastic new cost-cutting measures.

The biggest cost burden will be repaying a $4.5 million loan and operating costs for the new recreation centre which the former council approved soon after the 2017 election despite public calls for just a $1 million pool.

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Election candidates say they want change

TOODYAY will get a new face on council this month as the result of an election to replace former Cr Bill Manning who resigned in April to live in Tasmania.

Three newcomers have nominated for the vacancy, which will be decided by a postal ballot of all Toodyay voters starting on Thursday July 2.

The poll will close at 6pm on Friday July 31 and the winner is expected to be announced by the WA Electoral Commission in Toodyay later that evening.

The three new candidates all claim to be unaligned to Toodyay’s current eight councillors who have been split 4:4 on key decisions, including the shire presidency.

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Covid-19 rates reprieve ahead of fresh election, inquiry, new CEO

By Michael Sinclair-Jones

LOCAL property owners will not have to pay higher rates next month as the Toodyay Shire Council makes emergency cuts to its 2020-21 budget and braces for a series of major changes in coming months.

The shire has axed four staff positions – including Manager of Community Development – to save a total of $600,000 a year from next month.

It coincides with the expected arrival of new Shire CEO Suzie Haslehurst a day before a scheduled June 23 ordinary council meeting, news that the result of a long-running WA Government inquiry into the shire is a step closer to being tabled in State Parliament and another shire election due next month.

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100-year-old trees uprooted at heritage site

Heavy earthmoving equipment uproots a 100-year-old tree at Toodyay’s heritage-listed Catholic Precinct which has been subdivided and rezoned for commercial development. Parishioners fear historic former convent and school buildings will be next to go.

By Mick McKeown, Friends of the Toodyay Catholic Precinct

THE TOODYAY Catholic Precinct is one of three historic precincts in the town of Toodyay. The other two are the Gaol Group and the Stirling Terrace Main Street Precinct.

These three places are described in shire policy as having “special qualities which are highly valued by the community and it is important to retain and enhance these qualities as the town develops through time”.

The subdivision works in the Toodyay Catholic Precinct have just commenced with the clearing of several majestic old trees at the rear of the area.

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Caution urged as crowds return

By Michael Sinclair-Jones

WHEATBELT health officials and Toodyay police are cautioning people not to become complacent about observing social distancing rules and to keep washing their hands regularly as the State Government moves to ease Covid-19 restrictions in WA.

Permitted gatherings will increase from 20 to 100 people from Saturday June 6 but the illness can still be spread by people without symptoms who may be unaware they are infected.

Federal health officials said people need “to stay home if they have any cold or flu symptoms – no matter how mild – and get tested for Covid-19”.

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North Street saga continues

A RECORDING error at last month’s Toodyay Shire Council meeting resulted in the reversal of a 4-3 decision to turn a muddy track (left) in West Toodyay into a gravel road.

Viewers who left before the end of the 4½-hour live-streamed meeting missed seeing the decision reversed after Cr Ben Bell challenged it on a point of order.

He said an absolute majority vote of at least five members of the normally nine-member council was needed for the motion to pass because it called for the shire to spend extra money not included in 2019-20 shire budget.

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All-woman team takes over

Historic vote as 5-4 majority elects new shire president & deputy, and appoints new female CEO

      

New Toodyay Shire President Rosemary Madacsi is sworn in by Cr Brian Rayner JP, with former president Bill Manning watching (rear right) and Crs Paula Greenway (back to camera), Ben Bell and Therese Chitty.

By Michael Sinclair-Jones

TOODYAY has its first female shire president and will get its first woman CEO after two historic 5-4 votes by a new majority of councillors elected last October.

The council also voted 6-3 to elect a new female deputy president in a clean sweep for women in the shire’s top leadership roles.

Veteran Cr Rosemary Madacsi – who was elected deputy president last year after winning a postal ballot of all Toodyay voters – is the new shire president.

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Driveway vigils salute fallen

Toodyay RSL

By Heather Brennan

ON ANZAC Day we honoured those “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.

“Lest we forget”.

This year’s Anzac Day could only be described as one of the most-moving commemorations we have participated in.

Anzac Day should never go unmarked, therefore our sub-branch sought a safe and fitting way to undertake our commemoration.

This gave rise to an early morning service undertaken by Toodyay RSL President Peter Brennan,who laid the first wreath  (left), flags were raised at an eerily vacant and solemn Anzac Memorial Park, the ode was recited and the Last Post and Rouse played.

 

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