The Shire of Katanning Council will shrink by two elected members next year in a move chief executive Julian Murphy says will save the local government about $25,000 a year. But the change could “limit the diversity of interests around the council table” Mr Murphy had warned in an officer’s report ahead of Tuesday night’s vote. Councillors voted unanimously to support an officer’s recommendation to reduce their numbers from nine to seven. Three councillors will be elected at the 2021 local government elections, when five positions were set to become available. The recommendation prepared by Mr Murphy, came after a review of the Shire’s wards and representation in July. The last review of the Shire’s wards and representation was conducted in 2010. Katanning currently runs on a no-ward system, with nine councillors representing 2463 electors at a ratio of one member per 273.67 electors. In a report published ahead of the meeting, Mr Murphy said it was recommended that the Shire maintain its no-ward structure given most ratepayers were in the townsite. Mr Murphy recommended that the council be guided by the findings from a Local Government Review Panel report published in August. The report recommended local governments with a population of fewer than 5000 “should have the minimum allowable number of councillors”. “Given the current legislative environment and concerns about having an even number of councillors, it is recommended that seven councillors is an appropriate number for the Shire of Katanning given its current population,” Mr Murphy said. “There is a Statewide trend for reductions in the number of elected members, and many local governments have found that fewer elected members works well.” The report noted the move would be in line with other local governments of a similar size, with the 2790-elector Shire of Waroona operating with eight councillors, and the Shire of York’s 2739 electors with seven. The change could save the Shire $12,500 per elected member per year, Mr Murphy said. He cited several advantages to shrinking Katanning’s council. “The decision-making process may be more effective and efficient if the number of elec-ted members is reduced,” he said. “It is more timely to ascertain the views of a fewer number of people, and decision-making may be easier.” Mr Murphy said a smaller council could offer “more scope for team spirit”. “Fewer positions on council may lead to greater interest in elections, with contested elections and those elected obtaining a greater level of support from the community,” the report said. But Mr Murphy did note disadvantages to the recommendation, such as causing an increased workload which could “lessen effectiveness” of elected members. He said a reduction in the number of elected members may “limit the diversity of interests around the council table”. “A demanding role may discourage others from nominating for council,” he said.