WORK has begun on Toodyay’s new $13 million sport and recreation precinct after a 20-tonne excavator helped scoop the first shovel loads of earth for the town’s new 25-metre swimming pool.
About 30 people attended a ground-breaking ceremony led by local Federal Liberal MP and Attorney-General Christian Porter (centre), who last year announced a $4.7 million grant for the multi-sport project.
The project is also funded by Shire of Toodyay borrowings ($6.5 million) and grants and donations from the State Government ($1.79 million), local community ($117,000) and Toodyay and Districts Bendigo Community Bank ($100,000).
Local Labor MP Darren West (second left, above) said it would provide a community and sporting hub for 4500 local residents, and a fitness and social outlet for young people.
Special tribute was paid to Shire Community Development Officer Debra Andrijich (right) who wrote the successful funding applications and project co-ordinator Merridith Lamb (also pictured).
RATEPAYERS face an average increase of $50 in their annual rates bills after Toodyay shire councillors voted 6-2 last month to adopt a 2.5 per cent increase.
“There will be some winners and some losers,” shire audit committee chair Rob Welburn told a special council meeting.
The rates increase was moved by Cr Eric Twine, seconded by Shire Deputy President Therese Chitty and opposed by Crs Bill Manning and Ben Bell.read more
THE TOTAL amount of money raised from rates increases by 2.5 per cent to $6.54 million, with a budget surplus of $140,435.
Rises and falls in valuations mean that average rates in the dollar will increase by more than seven per cent for town residential properties while commercial properties will fall by an average of more than 10 per cent.
This is because house prices have fallen and average commercial values have risen.
Rural residential rates on bush ‘lifestyle’ blocks will increase by nearly five per cent while the average rise for broad-acre farms is 0.46 per cent.
Landgate told The Herald that broadacre farm valuations had increased “very slightly” in the eastern part of the shire, while the small farm market had “softened”, resulting in “some value reductions”.
The average for all types of rural farm land was a 0.04 per cent valuation increase.
Cr Welburn said Toodyay commercial values had risen and residential values fallen.
This required some rates in the dollar to rise and others to fall in order to maintain the proportion of shire rates revenue paid by each type of land use (see chart below).
“Rates could be higher but we are trying to keep it at a suitable level,” he said.
“The 2.5 per cent increase is an average across all rates but individual properties will vary – there will be some winners and some losers.
“I think keeping it down to 2.5 per cent is a pretty good effort.”
Cr Manning said he opposed the increase.
“Last year we finished with a substantial surplus,’ he said.
“The council’s cost of running its business has risen by about 1.8 per cent – a 2.5 per cent rates rise is a long way above that.
“We have an ageing population with a significant proportion that relies on their superannuation savings in retirement and interest rates are low – they’re feeling the pinch.
“I know it’s probably small bikkies for some ratepayers but it’s a lot of money for others.
Cr Bell said there was a disconnection between what families in the community were feeling and how the council raised rates.
“The people I represent are doing it tough.
“Property prices are falling but rates keep going up.
“The council should acknowledge that others are struggling and we should reflect that hardship in how we raise rates.
“We asked last time for a pause but it was denied – rates keep going up”.
Cr Bell asked what would happen if mortgage costs kept rising, property prices kept falling and the shire kept charging higher rates?
Shire CEO Stan Scott replied: “If you want to debate the increases, knock yourself out.”
Cr Eric Twine said if the shire wasn’t building a new public swimming pool he’d have no trouble dropping back to a zero or one per cent rate increase.
“The average increase for everyone is about $50,” he said.
“If the local government costs index is 1.8 per cent, you’re not putting anything away for the future if anything goes wrong.”
The rates motion was carried 6-2 with Crs Manning and Bell against.
Toodyay Chamber of Commerce and Industry
AFTER an opening speech by Toodyay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) President Deb Andrijich and background on the Trail development provided by member and event participant Anthea Brown, the Toodyay Food & Picnic Trail was officially launched on July 1 by local Labor MP Darren West.
Also in attendance were local Nationals WA MP Shane Love, several Toodyay shire councillors and 30 invited guests.
Thanks to the participating businesses for providing a delicious morning tea using all their local produce and Coorinja Winery for the seriously stunning venue.
The chamber also thanks Anthea Brown and Helen Shanks who have worked with the participants for several months to bring this exciting event to reality.Read more
To meet the criteria for inclusion on the trail the participants were required to have 80 per cent of their product made or produced locally.
Our amazing participants are Esslemont Olive Estate, Julimar Date Garden, Toodyay Bakery, The Meat Hook Toodyay, Uniquely Toodyay, Coorinja Winery and DromeDairy Body and Skin (Toodyay camel farmer Max Bergman pictured above).
There has been a lot of interest and it is expected that the event may grow over time as additional producers become ‘trail ready’.
The trail is a self-drive journey and part of several state-wide trails initiated by Tourism WA.
Along the Toodyay trail, you will meet the seven participating growers and producers of dates, olive oil, wine, breads, pastured meats and condiments to fill your picnic basket along with a camel experience.
Some participants on the trail are by appointment only and only operate seasonally, so please check the details in the guide and always call first in these instances.
The guide is available at trailswa.com.au/trails/experiences/food.wine/ and can be obtained from the Toodyay Visitor Centre and several outlets in Toodyay, as well as further afield in neighbouring shires.
So start spreading the word on #ToodyayFoodAndPicnicTrail.
The trail can be experienced in half a day, a whole day or be enjoyed over a few days, or perhaps take the AvonLink or MerredinLink service and book a local transport service through Lifelong Learning Tours, The Miners Run or Avon Valley Trike Tours.
We encourage visitors to stay a while at one of the many accommodation services in town and surrounding bushland.
Historic Toodyay is a unique country experience an hour’s drive from Perth in the Avon Valley known for its parks, wildflowers, nature reserves, natural bushland and riverside areas.
The trail provides the opportunity to explore this ‘hidden country gem’ right on Perth’s doorstep.
Thanks also to SkyworksWA who took footage of the event and participants for future promotional usage.
If you would like more information about Toodyay (history, exploring the area, where to stay etc.) contact the Toodyay Visitors Centre or check out their website toodyay.com/Home
Morangup artists Nicola Cowie (above left) and Katherine Ferguson with Toodyay’s first street mural which they completed last month on a new shire public toilet block in Charcoal Lane to mark Toodyay’s 2015 National Tidy Towns win. The Shire of Toodyay plans to install a nearby plaque to record the remarkable achievement by local Tidy Town volunteers (see Letters).
TOODYAY’S Duke Street footbridge over the east-west freight railway line that bisects the town near the Alma Beard Medical Centre is expected to reopen by November.
The Toodyay Shire Council agreed last month to take over maintaining the bridge later this year after the State Government spends $145,000 on a safety upgrade and the shire contributes $56,000 for repairs.Read more
The Perth Transport Authority (PTA) will also build a new controlled railway crossing suitable for disabled people west of the railway station.
The bridge was closed in May last year after a local resident was injured in a fall on the uneven walkway.
A PTA spokesperson said the works would repair critical parts of the bridge, including replacing parts of the pier columns, repairing mesh inserts on the handrails and broken railings, and replacing degraded parts of the bridge decking.
Depending on the weather and subject to required rail safety approvals by freight rail operator Arc Infrastructure, work should begin in September.
WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said she knew how important the footbridge was to the people of Toodyay and that many users were looking forward to it reopening.
“Ensuring there is a safe option for passengers and community members alike – particularly those with a disability – to cross the tracks is an important initiative,” she said.
Local Labor MP Darren West said he had lobbied the State Government for this outcome and was delighted that the parties involved had reached an agreement.
“I thank the Minister for this investment in the Toodyay community and for her ongoing support of the AvonLink Train Service.”
Local WA Nationals MP Shane Love described it on Facebook as “great news for Toodyay residents”.
“I have actively lobbied the Transport Minister on this important issue for some time now and this is a great result,” he said.
“I thank the Minister for her support.
“This is a good long-term and workable solution that ensures Toodyay residents – including the young, disabled and elderly – can safely cross from one side of town to the other.”
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
TOODYAY Shire CEO Stan Scott has gone from losing his current job on July 22 to scoring a 2.5 per cent pay rise for another year after a secret council backflip in May.
Mr Scott will get a total of $243,000 in a new salary package, including payment of 14.5 per cent shire-funded superannuation.READ MORE
Toodyay Shire councillors voted 6-1 behind closed doors last month (Cr Bill Manning against, Cr Ben Bell overseas on business) to add Mr Scott’s $20,800 annual housing allowance to his new base salary, which increases his ratepayer-funded superannuation to more than $25,000 a year.
Perth’s Consumer Price Index (cost of living) rose by 1.1 per cent in the 12 months to March 31.
Cr Manning’s motion for no pay rise lapsed without debate when no other councillor responded to President’s Rayner’s call for a seconder.
Mr Scott left the chamber only after Cr Manning queried why the CEO was being allowed to stay and watch while councillors decided how much to pay him.
Earlier, two State Government investigators conducting an ‘authorised inquiry’ into the Toodyay Shire Council introduced themselves to Shire President Brian Rayner and remained in the chamber when the public gallery was ordered to leave for four items of ‘confidential’ business, including the CEO’s contract.
President Rayner later told The Herald that Cr Manning had sent him five pages of “cosmetic changes” to the CEO’s contract the day before the council meeting.
“Council accepted those changes as they did not alter the meaning of the contract,” President Rayner said.
“There were also four amendments to the contract to be added.”
Cr Manning, a former WA Government senior lawyer who helped prepare multi-million-dollar State contracts, said the draft CEO contract contained several inconsistencies that needed to be corrected.
The contract also required about half a dozen “substantive” changes that councillors debated and accepted, he said.
President Rayner said he was unable to provide a copy of the CEO’s new contract to The Herald as a public document under local government law until a revised copy was signed by himself and Mr Scott.
TOODYAY is to get a new 12-seater community bus after shire councillors voted 6-0 (Cr Judy Dow declared an interest through a family member and left the chamber) to spend $54,500 on a new vehicle from Avon Valley Toyota in Northam.