Shire of Roebourne sets big-budget spending plan
Shire President Fiona White-Hartig

Shire of Roebourne has adopted one of its biggest ever budgets, with more than $130 million expenditure outlined for this new financial year.

However, the spending comes at a cost for residents and businesses, with a 7 per cent increase across all rates categories, raising $28 million.

A 3.5 per cent increase to refuse collection charges was adopted for what documents outline as a “variety of reasons”.

Domestic refuse collection will now cost a standard household $272 a year while businesses will pay $299 per bin.

Commercial collection away from the curb will increase to $955 a year.

Councillors passed the 2012-13 budget documents at a special council meeting held on Friday at the council chambers in Karratha.

Last month Pilbara News reported the region’s councils would receive an 11 per cent decrease in Federal grants, meaning $300,000 revenue reduction.

Council president Fiona White-Hartig said $71 million would be spent on capital works and $68 million on operational costs.

“A total capital expenditure of $71 million has been committed to complete a number of important projects, including the Karratha Leisure Complex and vital upgrades to water, wastewater and power at Karratha Airport,” she said.

“This budget is geared towards delivering on these remaining projects and managing the costs associated with their operation.

“We must also contend with additional costs of development associated with the resource sector and population growth.”

The $68 million allocated for operational costs is a 14 per cent increase on last year, with 36 per cent of that for increased insurance, 18 per cent each for employee costs, materials and contracts, and 14 per cent for utilities.

The increase in cost of employees comes after the termination of a State Government agreement for Karratha Library and Walkington Theatre.

The termination resulted in the Shire reportedly requiring an additional seven staff members while a new collective agreement with staff also contributed to the increase.

An estimated surplus of $565,042 was brought through from the previous year while a proposed $7.44 million loan was approved to fund Karratha Leisure Complex’s continued construction.

Big money coming in for the Shire includes close to $18 million from Department of Education and industry funds to help cover the costs of the leisure complex while Roads to Recovery will deliver $559,690 and Royalties for Regions $400,000.

A three-year phase-out of concessions on rates for pastoral leases will also generate a substantial increase in rates.

Some pastoral stations currently receive up to an 85 per cent discount on rates but within just three years will receive none.

In one example, under the plan Mt Welcome Station, owned by Mt Welcome Pastoral Co, will pay more than $62,000 this financial year in rates, more than $102,000 in 2013-14 and more than $142,000 in 2014-15. Last financial year the company paid $21,350 after an 85 per cent concession granted by the Shire.

Most of the pastoral properties from which the Shire collect rates have a concession of more than 50 per cent, with a $64,777 total.

By the time the phase out of concessions is complete this will increase to $176,506.

Shire councillors each will receive $7000 this year for their services while the Shire president receives $14,000.

The president is permitted to take a $60,000 local government allowance while the deputy shire president is allocated $15,000.

Each councillor is allocated $2400 in telephone expenses while a $113,000 total was allocated for councillor travel expenses.

Changes to the paid parking structure at Karratha Airport have also been introduced from last weekend.

A $3 cost was introduced for motorists that stay longer than 30 minutes, increasing to $5 for an hour and $7 for two hours-plus.

Once finalised, the budget will be made available at the Shire offices and libraries.

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