The City of Bunbury has avoided a 3.5 per cent rate increase, instead choosing a hike of 2.9 per cent.
During the meeting on June 12, councillors engaged in heated debate over a proposed increase in property rates for the 2018/19 Budget.
After holding two workshops for councillors over the new draft budget, the city landed on a proposed increase of 3.5 per cent.
The proposal outlined that 1 per cent would be used for the renewal and upgrade of existing infrastructure assets.
Under a 3.5 per cent increase, the estimated closing funds balance would reach $261,025 by June 30, 2019.
Councillors Betty McCleary, Karen Steele, and Brendan Kelly expressed their support for a 3.5 per cent increase.
“A 3.5 per cent increase would go towards improving the asset services and promotion of our city,” Cr McCleary said.
“Bunbury is in good shape because we dare to make brave, responsive decisions regarding budget rate rises.
“Allowing for low rates over a long period of time would cause extreme hardship whenever catch-up is required.”
Cr Kelly said a 3.5 per cent increase was reasonable for homeowners and business owners.
Meanwhile, fellow councillors Jaysen Miguel, Tresslyn Smith, and Michelle Steck pushed for a 2.9 per cent rise, suggesting 3.5 per cent could prove damaging to the region.
“By moving from 3.5 per cent to 2.9 per cent, we’re not moving projects or dropping services,” Cr Miguel said.
“I urge you to vote against this motion and support the 2.9 per cent rate increase.”
The motion for a 3.5 per cent hike was lost 3/8, bringing the alternate figure into play.
Council then voted 9/2 in favour of a 2.9 per cent rate rise. Councillors McCleary and Kelly voted against the alternate motion.
The shift from 3.5 per cent to 2.9 per cent will lead to a decrease of $219,206 in the city’s rates income.
The proposed property rate increase will be advertised for community consultation before the council adopts the 2018/19 budget on Tuesday, June 26.