A remarkable feat
IT’S GOING to be easy to scream about this month’s five per cent rates increase.
Some will no doubt seek to accuse our shire of being lazy, greedy and wasteful.
It’s also easy to forget last year when Toodyay was forced to shut down for a month and looked like a ghost town.
A new council achieved last year what previous administrations had found impossible – a 12-month rates freeze.
It helped people survive financially, but – as at every level of government around the world – came at a fiscal cost.Read more
And in the midst of all this came a massive new $14 million sport and recreation centre that many local residents never wanted and may never use – all they wanted was a pool.
Now we find out it will cost $400,000 a year to run, and another $312,000 a year in annual loan repayments.
Great – that’s just what we need in a time of great financial uncertainty as NSW and Victoria suffer the impact of a new and more deadly variant of the Covid-19 virus.
The growing health crisis across our state border may seem remote from Toodyay but two unknowingly infected NSW truckies passed through Northam on their way to Perth last month – a near miss for our ageing community.
As seen elsewhere, a single unknown community contact can cause costly chaos.
That our shire this year appears to have produced a new budget that keeps rate rises down to a total of five per cent over the past two years seems remarkable.
It includes costs deferred from last year because of Covid-19 lockdowns, job losses and supply delays.
Ratepayers won’t know the detail until later this month but that kind of news is likely to come as a relief to many.
If true, our council will need to stick to that fiscal target to maintain budgetary constraint.
The only way to achieve that is through prudent financial management which must be balanced against social need.
We need a council that understands this and an administration that can deliver it.
It means setting aside petty differences to achieve a common goal that best serves the whole community interest.
These are the same selfless qualities that drive our volunteer firefighters, ambulance crews, emergency services personnel and local police officers.
Our shire needs more councillors of that calibre, and next month’s shire elections for four vacancies provides an opportunity to advance that cause.
Our community deserves candidates who can bring these qualities to the council chamber, with enough contenders to enable voters to make an informed choice.
And we need enough electors to cast their ballots to ensure the winners truly reflect the voice of the community.
It may be a lot to ask but let’s give it a go.