Mining rate rejection leaves $200,000 budget black hole
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
STATE rejection of a new Shire of Toodyay rate to pay for damage caused by heavy mining trucks on shire roads has left a $200,000 black hole in this year’s budget.
The State said the new rate was several times higher than ever before charged in WA and that councils did not normally adopt budgets without first getting State approval to charge more than twice their lowest rate.
Councillors voted 6-0 in August to raise rates by 3700 per cent on ‘unimproved’ farmland covered by 36 local mining tenements, increasing it from 0.014170c in the dollar to 0.541912c.
The higher rate aimed to cover the cost of year-round repairs to gravel and other roads damaged by heavy mining traffic, including in Julimar where Chalice Mining owns nine farms and operates 10 mining tenements (pictured above).Read more
The same roads are used by local farmers to transport hundreds of tonnes of grain for the shire’s annual harvest and to cart bulk hay, wool and livestock to market.
Councillors voted 8-0 in May to adopt the new mining rate in this year’s shire budget and sought State approval on July 15.
The shire was still reponding to queries from State officials on August 10 when councillors voted 6-0 to adopt a new 2022-23 shire budget that required miners to pay $200,000 a year to cover road repair costs.
It was not until September 3 – more than six weeks after the initial shire request and a week after an August 31 statutory budget deadline – that officials rejected the new rate.
Based on legal advice, councillors then voted 6-0 at a Special Council Meeting on September 28 to ask the State Administrative Tribunal to quash the rejected rate from this year’s budget.
They agreed to postpone the new rate until next year’s budget.
Ms Haslehurst said the shire was currently reviewing its 2022-23 budget and talking to Chalice about road maintenance contributions.
“They’re being receptive,” she said.
WA Local Government Executive Director Tim Fraser said the shire needed to “re-arrange” its rates in a way that did not require ministerial approval.