Seat to remain vacant after councillor quits ahead of potential horror budget
AN ELECTION to replace former Toodyay Shire Cr Paula Greenway (left) who resigned at the end of April will be postponed until three other council seats fall vacant in October.
Last month’s council meeting also deferred discussing whether to cut the number of Toodyay councillors from nine to seven.
Cr Greenway’s surprise resignation citing “personal priorities, beliefs and morals” six months before her four-year term was due to expire in October leaves Toodyay’s remaining eight councillors with the task of finalising this month’s likely horror budget.
Shire President Rosemary Madacsi will hold a second casting vote to break 4-4 ties.
However, this won’t count for finance decisions such as budgets where State law requires the support of an absolute majority of at least five elected representatives in the normally nine-member council chamber.Read more
Holding an extraordinary election to fill the vacancy would have cost the cash-strapped shire an extra $22,000 and wiped out more than half of this year’s March-revised $40,000 projected budget surplus.
In addition, a newly elected councillor would have sat for only three council meetings before the remainder of their four-year term expired in October.
The WA Electoral Commission wrote last month that it would approve a May council decision to defer an election until October.
It will be the first time all Toodyay voters decide who fills the seat after the 2017 vote was restricted to only those living in the now-abolished former West Ward – which includes Morangup – when former Cr Greenway was re-elected with 214 votes.
Crs Brian Rayner and Therese Chitty, whose four-year terms also expire in October, are the only other two remaining councillors who have never faced all Toodyay voters.
Nobody voted for Cr Rayner in 2017 when he was the only candidate to stand in the now-abolished North Ward, and Cr Chitty was elected in the former East Ward with with only 284 votes.
A total of 2575 Toodyay electors were enrolled to vote in 2017, and 3425 in 2019.
Cr Ben Bell topped the shire’s historic first postal ballot of all Toodyay electors in 2019 with a record 1126 votes when ward restrictions were abolished.
A council forum in April discussed whether more money could be saved by cutting the number of Toodyay councillors from nine to seven, as in neighbouring Goomalling, Chittering and York.
The Local Government Advisory Board said last month that it was too late this year to elect a smaller council in October.
The board said it needed to be formally notified of an absolute majority vote of at least five supporting Toodyay councillors by January 31 in a local government election year.
The board would then take a further six to nine months to review and publish its decision in the WA Government Gazette.
This needed to be done by June 30 in an election year to enable the WA Election Commission (WAEC) to modify the poll.
“The good news is that if your Shire decides to commence a representation review (via council resolution) soon, then you will be well ahead of the game for the 2023 LG elections!” the board wrote.
Cutting the council’s size was omitted from last month’s decision to leave former Cr Greenway’s seat empty until October.
Councillors voted 7-0 (Cr Bell absent on council-approved leave) to seek WAEC approval to defer an extraordinary election until the state-wide October poll.