SHIRE of Mundaring councillors voted by majority to approve a 3 per cent rate increase and adopt financial plans presented at a special council meeting on Tuesday.
The sign-off followed a decision on June 28, when councillors voted 5-4 vote against a 4 per cent hike and sent the finance team back to the drawing board.
Shire President David Lavell said the rates’ increases presented for future years were forecasts only.
“The long-term financial plan adopted by council forecasts a 5 per cent increase in 2017-18 to ensure the forecast budget is balanced,” he said.
“However, there will be an annual review of all assumptions and expenditure priorities (as listed in the long term financial plan 2016-17) in an effort to ensure any rate increases are set at the minimum level required to adequately fund community services and infrastructure.
“This review may well result in amended forecasts for 2017-18 and beyond.”
Rates Mundaring action group spokesman John Bell said he was delighted councillors recognised the need to examine internal overheads and trim costs.
“It was good to see a change in sentiment and an understanding that rates of 5-6 per cent are unacceptable,” he said.
“The Shire can’t keep pushing rates above the Consumer Price Index when people’s salaries are slow to rise.”
Mr Bell was one of several representatives of residents’ associations to speak out against excessive rate rises.
The semi-retired director and business consultant urged councillors to push for greater organisational efficiency within the Shire.
“It was more than disappointing to see the executive had simply deleted an organisational review (for this year) and apparently given no further considerations to the community views expressed in the previous deputations,” he said.
Mr Bell called on councillors to review a proposal to spend $400,000 on an organisational review conducted by consultants.
“Rather than introducing initiatives to reduce operational costs and improving efficiency, the executive appear to have simply deferred the item to provide council with the 1 per cent (rate) saving in 2016-17,” he said.
The Shire’s 2016-17 annual budget includes $10,000 for promotion of the Gran Fondo cycling race that caused traffic chaos through the Hills in March.
Gran Fondo race finals are due to take place on Father’s Day, September 11.