After the Shire of Narrogin increased rates by 2.5 per cent last week, the Observer decided to compare the budgets adopted by nearby councils. Not all Shires in the region have provided an overall rate rise, and with different rating systems and property fluctuations between the Shires, another approach was needed. The Observer has decided to compare the percentage change in rates revenue for each Shire from 2020-21 to 2021-22. While it is not a perfect measure, it does give an insight into council rates across our region. SHIRE OF NARROGIN Rate revenue increase: 3.81 per cent Revenue raised from rates: $5,117,093 Rate rise last year: 0 per cent SHIRE OF PINGELLY Rate revenue increase: 6.5 per cent Revenue raised from rates: $2,229,216 Rate rise last year: 0 per cent SHIRE OF WILLIAMS Rate revenue increase: 3.19 per cent Revenue raised from rates: $2,028,852 Rate rise last year: 2 per cent rise in revenue SHIRE OF CUBALLING Rate revenue increase: 5.86 per cent Revenue raised from rates: $1,241,412 Rate rise last year: 0 per cent SHIRE OF LAKE GRACE Rate revenue increase: 7.08 per cent Revenue raised from rates: $4,553,964 Rate rise last year: 2 per cent rise in revenue SHIRE OF WAGIN Rate revenue increase: 2 per cent Revenue raised from rates: $2,430,396 Rate rise last year: one per cent rise in revenue SHIRE OF WANDERING Rate revenue increase: 9.7 per cent Revenue raised from rates: $1,208,054 Rate rise last year: 0 per cent SHIRE OF WEST ARTHUR Rate revenue increase: 2.85 per cent Revenue raised from rates: $1,776,244 Rate rise last year: 1.2 per cent rise in revenue SHIRE OF KULIN Rate revenue increase: 2.1 per cent Revenue raised from rates: $2,076,206 Rate rise last year: 0.9 per cent rise in revenue Shire of Boddington Budget not released. SHIRES JUSTIFY RISE Residents in two southern Wheatbelt shires have been hit with a rates hike of 10 per cent this year, at a time when many are still feeling uncertain about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Shire of Cuballing and the Shire of Wandering kept rates on hold in 2020-21 at the height of the pandemic. But with both shires trying to balance the books, they have driven up rates in the hopes of getting their financial plans back on track. Shire of Cuballing president Mark Conley said the decision to raise rates by 10 per cent was not easy, but he emphasised that the Shire would continue to be low-rating. “These are never easy decisions, trying to balance service delivery with rates contribution and the long-term sustainability of the Shire of Cuballing, however for the 2021-22 financial year, rates will increase by 10 per cent,” he said in a president’s letter. “It is worth first noting that the Shire of Cuballing rates are the lowest, by some way, in comparison to our neighbouring shires and even the region. “That said, we should have lower rates because we don’t provide the expensive services that some neighbours have, such as deep sewerage, swimming pools or libraries. “We will continue to be a low-rating shire.” The Shire of Wandering budgeted for expenditure on a range of capital works programs. Its 10 per cent rate increase is expected to help pay for $600,000 of road maintenance, $130,000 for caravan park cabins, and $200,000 for an industrial estate redevelopment. Shire of Wandering chief executive Belinda Knight said the plan was justified. “Council did not increase rates (last year),” she said. “The long-term financial plan has an average increase of 6 per cent per annum. “Thus if council had implemented this to the letter, the increase would have been 12 per cent. “Council tried to remain reasonable while meeting its obligations.” Two shires with among the biggest budgeted increases in rates revenue have been the Shire of Lake Grace and the Shire of Pingelly, with rises of 7.08 per cent and 6.5 per cent respectively. In a statement ahead of the Shire of Lake Grace’s July council meeting, officers made it clear much of the increase was because of the increase in value of unimproved properties “The UV rate was not increased as the Shire of Lake Grace have received notification from Landgate that the property values on unimproved rated properties had increased by an average of 9.42 per cent across the board,” officers said. In the Shire of Pingelly, the increased rates revenue comes as the Shire has increased minimum rates for the first time in three years.