$80,000 poll yields a mixed message

Image: File photo.
Image: File photo.

The exercise, which was openly opposed by Member for Kalamunda John Day and cost the Shire about $80,000, saw ballots posted to 37,305 eligible ratepayers to seek public opinion on proposed council amalgamations.

The poll closed on May 17.

Of the 15,867 polls that were returned, more than 13,500 voted ‘no’, indicating a large majority opposed amalgamation. But almost 21,438 ballots were not returned, which means 57.47 per cent of voters did not have their say on the issue.

Shire President Sue Bilich insisted it was a positive result.

‘When you consider how many people normally do not bother to vote in non-compulsory elections, the results were extremely good,’ she said.

‘It sends a strong message to the State Government, supporting previous submissions by the Shire of Kalamunda that our community does not want to amalgamate and be part of a super council,’ she said.

‘The shire has the organisational and financial capacity to meet current and future community needs, and the strategies and plans in place to meet them.

‘It is focused on advancing Kalamunda as a leader in community capacity building, creating a place for people to prosper in their lives and a place that lives in harmony with its natural environment.’

The results of the poll have been forwarded to Local Government Minister Tony Simpson.

‘As a council and a community, we must now await the decision of the State Government,’ Ms Bilich said.

When the shire pursued the poll, Mr Day warned it not to, claiming it would be a waste of time and money.

He told the Hills Gazette in March the State Government would consider cutting shire funding if it continued to spend money on ‘futile exercises’.

Councillor Bob Emery was the only shire councillor to oppose the poll, believing the State Government might not take its results into consideration.

Kalamunda Shire acting CEO Rhonda Hardy said the shire wanted to show ratepayers it was doing all it could to prevent an amalgamation.

‘We represent our ratepayers and we want to show we didn’t cause the amalgamation,’ she said.

According to the shire, if it is forced to amalgamate with another council, rates could leap between $100 and $500 a year and pension discount could be abolished.