City of Busselton Council passes 2020/21 budget with no rate rise

The City of Busselton Council passed its 2020/21 budget with a 0 per cent rate rise.

In wake of COVID-19, local government's across Western Australia were encouraged to freeze rates this financial year.

It is the first time in a long time that rates have not been increased by the council offering landowners some financial relief as the economy experiences a downturn brought on by the pandemic.

City officers commented that an original rate increase of 2.75 per cent was initially proposed pre-COVID-19 but was later reviewed.

It is predicted $52.7 million will be raised from rates.

Council also agreed to freeze fees and charges for 20/21 which means there will be no additional costs for rubbish collection and recycling charges.

Councillor Sue Riccelli voted against the city raising a loan of $7.5 million this financial year which would go towards the commencement of the Busselton Entertainment Arts and Cultural Hub development.

Ms Riccelli raised an amendment to defer a decision to raise the loan until a special elector's meeting was held and tenders were considered.

Ms Riccelli said by the number of emails she had received from ratepayers and social media posts she had seen that she believed a large proportion of the community were opposed to the development.

She said there was community unrest and she felt an obligation to have a special elector's meeting.

"This term listen more and talk less, I ask you to listen to ratepayers," she said.

The amendment was not supported by her fellow councillors, with Paul Carter stating that the business case for the development was well considered and well measured.

"We have not pulled the trigger yet there are still checkpoints along the way," he said.

Councillor Ross Paine said there had already been a decade of public consultation on the development and that council had listened to the community and followed their directions.

Mr Paine said he believed it was a small section of the community who were against the development.

His sentiments were echoed by councillor Kate Cox who said she was concerned they were only hearing from a small group of ratepayers who were against the project.

Ms Cox said the ratepayers she had spoken to were not voicing any concern and felt the majority of the community were supportive of the project.

Five ratepayers expressed concern about the cost and timing of the performing arts and convention centre development during public question time at the meeting.

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