Rates and development on agenda
Over the coming weeks in the lead-up to the local elections we’ll be running a series of stories exploring what the candidates feel about topics that matter to residents of the town and shire they want to serve.
The elections will be held on October 21 in the Town of Port Hedland and the Shire of East Pilbara.
This year, local government elections are performed by a postal vote and all electors on the local government electoral roll will receive election packages in the mail.
Shire of East Pilbara electors can obtain replacement packages from the Newman administration office on Kalgan Drive and can hand-deliver their voting packages at the administration office on election day.
Town of Port Hedland electors can obtain a replacement package from the Civic Centre in Port Hedland and can hand-deliver their voting packages on election day at the Civic Centre, Lotteries House in South Hedland and Yandeyarra.
In one of the most hotly contested local elections ever seen in the Town of Port Hedland, 16 candidates are vying for a place on the council, with eight people wanting your vote for the mayoral chains.
This week, we asked the Town of Port Hedland candidates if they felt rates for the local authority were too high, low, or just right and what they would do regarding rates if they were to be elected.
Mayoral and councillor candidate
It depends on the up-to-date financial situation of the Town of Port Hedland and what has been spent on infrastructure and services. Ratepayers are always saying the rates are too high. It will be my job as a leader to make the tough decisions and ensure everyone is paying their fair share.
Of course we would all like to see rates reduced. The problem is that the Town used to earn about $50 million per year from sources other than rates. Now the Town only earns about $25 million per year from other sources, so rates are being increased to help make up the shortfall. I would like to see the TOPH strive to earn more from other sources so there is less pressure to keep increasing rates.
Mayoral and councillor candidate
No one enjoys rates, but do you like a bargain? What’s the difference? Both are parting with money. The answer is value. It’s hard to see the value of rates when you’re struggling. No one candidate can promise to reduce rates, however, I’m sure we will all continue to seek rate reductions. I will strive to lead a team that brings incredible value for money, and increased cashflow to the people of Port Hedland.
Rates are too high. I recognise the importance of educated financial decisions. If I don’t know the best way forward on a topic I will not take a punt; I will use all avenues to become informed. The council needs to continue to trim fat from spending and explore additional revenue streams. Improving the liveability of town and increasing the population will spread the cost burden. To do this we need to address ongoing grassroots issues.
Most of the issue is trying to run the Town with such a small population. We can share the costs with more residents if we open our town by facilitating investment, development and growth, which needs to happen. Cutting jobs at the Shire and delivering less services for the increased rates is not the answer. Increase employment opportunities, then increase the ratepayer base by diversifying, not by slugging us with increased rates.
The budget position for the Town is challenging, but this is no different for many families and businesses. The Town has the capacity to find the solutions without burdening ratepayers. Ideally, I would like to reduce rates, but currently this isn’t possible or responsible. If elected, I will not support a rate increase above CPI. If this limit existed for the 17/18 rates, the 1.5 per cent increase would have been halved
One person cannot decide to increase or decrease rates, that is decided by the whole council. Anyone that states otherwise is incorrect. We were facing a $7 million deficit this year. Rates are a fee for service, reductions can only be achieved by reducing operational costs, creating efficiencies and working smarter. Over the past 10 months, we have reduced costs $4 million without reducing services.
There’s a long way to go yet.
Rates are set on the basis of the cash flow needed by TOPH to continue to provide the services its residents expect. Our current CEO and mayor have been in their positions less than 12 months. During that time there has been a demonstrably more responsible approach to management of TOPH finances. CEO and elected councillors’ travel expenditure has dramatically fallen. This and other measures have limited the rates increase. I support financial restraint.
I feel they are too high. I would apply a reduction in rates from the interest received from the investment of the lease of the airport as promised to the ratepayers.
If elected, I would like to see how best we can utilise our limited resources and balance our priorities to produce the best outcome for the ratepayers. I will do further research and consultation to gain better understanding of the issues and examine projects presented to me that are likely to impact on rates.
This week we asked Shire of East Pilbara candidates what they think the next steps should be for the ongoing development and revitalisation of the Shire as a whole, after the Newman Square development?
South Ward candidate
I believe the Town Square revitalisation project was greatly received and is well utilised by the community of Newman. The ongoing development and revitalisation should include a focus on youth, identifying problems, issues and creating suitable packages or programs that will continue into the future. This should also include infrastructure to accommodate these programs and possibly other community groups, taking them forward and relieving their financial stress.
The facility should be multipurpose and designed in a way that these groups or activities can grow and benefit from, possibly raising an income to become somewhat self-sufficient.
South Ward candidate
Delivery of the Town Square has been very exciting for Newman. For our community to prosper we need to future-proof our town by creating sustainable population and economic growth, improve infrastructure and be able to deliver essential services to the community. The priority should be focusing on working with the big miners and businesses ensuring residential employment opportunities increase in the region. We need to prioritise projects the community wants though remembering that existing ageing infrastructure needs upgrading and funding needs to be budgeted and sourced to support new projects and the delivery of services.
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