There could be a significant shift in the way the Shire of Wagin determines its rates, with councillors backing the introduction of a differential rating system and a 4.9 per cent rate rise. Shire of Wagin councillors voted at a special meeting on July 7 to advertise a proposed 4.9 per cent overall rate increase, along with creation of new rating categories. In his report to councillors, Shire acting deputy chief executive Ian McCabe said budget preparations had indicated a shortfall which would be covered by the $123,000 in additional revenue from the rate rise. Speaking after the meeting, Shire president Phil Blight said the council had been impacted by inflationary pressures and the proposed increase would help maintain the status quo for Shire services. “As with everyone else, the cost of everything has gone sky high,” Cr Blight said. “In our case, the costs of fuel and bitumen have risen, as well as the cost of employment as wages have grown. “We as a council are buffering, and we think it will be a good outcome if we keep the rate rise at 4.9 per cent.” The council has also voted to consider introducing a new rating scheme for properties within the Wagin townsite. If the changes are implemented, properties in the town will be subject to different rates depending on whether they are used for commercial and industrial use, or neither of those land uses. Most properties within the Wagin townsite are rated on their gross rental value, which is the amount of revenue a property can earn if rented once taxes and other deductions are made. Between 2015 and this year, the average GRV of non-commercial properties within Wagin increased by 33 per cent, while it increased by only 5 per cent for commercial properties. In his report to the council, Mr McCabe said the findings demonstrated greater economic pressure and variability in the type, size and activity within commercial entities. “Since the GRV (property) portfolio was last assessed in 2015 there has been significant changes in location for some businesses as well as scale of activity,” he said. “Residential property values and rents have also been affected by the pandemic and changes in the economy. This is further complicated by the nature of value change having different characteristics for commercial and residential properties. “The categorising together of these different types of land use into a single pool could affect equity and fairness in calculating rates. Properties with differing land use and valuation characteristics could mean some properties will have greater increases to rates while others have a lower increase than would be the case otherwise.” Those who have their land valued using GRV and do not use their properties for commercial or industrial use would be charged 8.775 cents for every rateable dollar, while those who use their properties for commercial or industrial use would be charged 11.6 cents for every rateable dollar. The remaining predominantly rural properties in the Shire have their rates determined by their unimproved value, which is the value of the land itself without including any infrastructure on it. They would be charged 0.05738 cents for every rateable dollar. The minimum rate payment per property would be $630 for the 2022-23 financial year. Cr Blight said he was expecting community feedback on the proposed rates changes. Ratepayers have until 4pm on August 5 to make written submissions to the Shire.