Councillors ignore huge petition
TOODYAY residents are on the warpath after six shire councillors ignored a 2000-signature petition (pictured left) and voted last month to raise rates by 2.2 per cent.
The increase was opposed by Toodyay’s three newest councillors who asked that their dissenting votes be formally recorded.
The petition sought a rate rise of no more than 0.9 per cent, which was the same amount agreed 4-3 by councillors in June.
However, the June decision was invalid due to the absence of Shire President Brian Rayner overseas and Cr Paula Greenway absent without leave on personal business, leaving it short of an absolute majority of five of the council’s nine members.
The four councillors who voted for a 0.9 per cent rate increase in June switched four weeks later to 2.2 per cent when President Rayner returned from leave to enable a 5-4 absolute majority vote to more than double the previously agreed rate increase.
Public advertising resulted in nine public submissions, 20 pages of comments and a 2000-name petition signed by more than 60 per cent of all Toodyay voters – more than the total number of people who voted in last year’s local council elections.
However, the council voted 6-3 last month – with Cr Greenway switching sides – to ignore the petition and raise rates by 2.2 per cent rate on all Toodyay properties, regardless of land use.
New Cr Bill Manning said he was “very disturbed” by the shire administration’s written responses to public submissions.
- “It is not difficult to get people to sign up for lower rates based on misinformation;
- “This is a hysterical claim which has no merit;
- “Signing a petition for lower rates based on dubious information and selected statements is an easy sell;
- “These comments are hysterical and biased and not supported by the facts.”
Cr Manning said he had “read the submissions very carefully – frankly, I was appalled at the shire responses”.
“To treat them with such low regard and respond with denigrating and dismissive comments and supercilious throw-away lines is quite wrong,’ Cr Manning said.
“If it’s coming from the person who I think it is, then the next agenda item (to join and promote WA’s ‘Choose Respect Campaign’) explains why it is wrong.
“Those comments show no respect for the people who put in the submissions.”
President Rayner said the 2.2 per cent rates rise equalled the cost of two packets of cigarettes and was “manageable”.
It has prompted the launch of a second public petition, this time calling on WA Local Government Minister David Templeman to veto the rate rise and launch an investigation into the Shire of Toodyay.
Several other written complaints are understood also to have been made to the Minister, including a call for the entire council to be stood down.