Voters asked if they want council cut
Toodyay’s current nine-member shire council (former Cr Ben Bell absent).
TOODYAY voters are being asked if they want to cut the size of their shire council from nine to seven members.
Councillors voted 8-0 last month to advertise a review of councillor numbers in line with WA Government reforms which are expected to be introduced into State Parliament before the end of this year.
Toodyay currently has eight sitting members after former Cr Ben Bell resigned his seat at the end of January, leaving 20 months of his four-year term left to serve.Read more
The council was already operating with only eight members for much of last year because former Cr Bell was absent from most monthly council meetings, all committee meetings and most shire agenda briefings.
The shire received WA Government permission in March to leave his vacant seat empty until the next state-wide local government elections, due in October 2023.
The State Government announced last month that proposed new local government laws would cut shires the size of Toodyay to five, six or seven elected members.
The shire opposed an earlier State plan to reduce shires with less than 5000 electors – Toodyay had 3256 at last year’s elections – to five councillors.
It said five local councillors were too few to ensure adequate representation and efficient council operation.
Cutting the number of councillors from nine to seven would reduce the cost of shire elections and save ratepayers a total of $32,000 a year in sitting fees and allowances.
A shire discussion paper said there was a statewide trend towards smaller councils, particularly in smaller shires “with many finding that fewer elected members has improved their decision-making process”.
Disadvantages might include “a potential for dominance in the council by a particular group or a limited diversity of interests around the council table”.
It might also increase councillor workloads and reduce their effectiveness and efficiency.
The shire has advertised the proposal on Page 15, with public submissions closing on Friday September 30.