Shire of Capel president Michael Southwell has backed his council’s decision to freeze property rates for a second consecutive year. Councillors last night voted not to increase rates for the 2021-22 financial year, going against an officer’s recommendation for a two per cent hike. It marks the second year in-a-row the shire has kept its rates the same, after each local government in WA last year froze all charges at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The shire received 13 public submissions going against the original recommendation to slightly increase the property charge, with 12 of them specific to a proposed higher special area rate in Dalyellup. The rejected extra area rate for the town was set to cover 50 percent of the maintenance costs of special parks and reserves in the area. The motion was overturned in favour of the zero per cent increase by a four to two vote. Shire president Michael Southwell said the decision was important in showing the council listens to the community. “One of the major things we wanted to do differently, what we think the previous councils did not do, was listen,” he said. “We can now have a discussion, which I think is needed, about the resetting of rates, whether we need a single rate, whether we need to increase the commercial rate, and what to do about that special area rate for Dalyellup, which is becoming an impost. “I think the community wants to see things done differently, and not necessary more expensively.” Councillor Dave Clews told the council the special area rate would have been an unfair “double dip” into Dalyellup ratepayers pockets. Cr Clews said the figure for the 50 per cent maintenance cover came from an irrelevant agenda meeting’s background information from 2002. “If it is 50 percent you are after, Dalyellup is much more than fifty percent, as far as rate base goes, of the shire of Capel,” he said. “They are already paying more than 50 percent simply being bigger than everyone else.” Mr Southwell said the special rate to maintain the gardens was not fair if was not what the community want. “(The gardens) were put there by the developer to attract people to the area, we need to talk to the people of Dalyellup to see how much they actually want those parks,” he said. “Do they all have to be grassed, or can some be turned into native parks? “We have to look at things in a different way instead of slugging rate payers.” Councillor Doug Kitchen voted against the amendment along with Councillor Kaara Andrew, suggesting the rate rise works inline with the new financial year’s cost rise of amenities. Cr Kitchen also told the council the rate rises were necessary in setting up the future of the shire. “We have seen people say that they want this shire to prepare for its future, namely climate change and that's going to require quite a significant amount of capital investment on this local government,” he said. “To stay at zero is not sustainable and not prudent financial management, and that's a rough thing to say but I actually care about the future of this organisation more than i care for my back pocket.” Capel Chamber President Bernie Masters said the councils decision is the right move for businesses and its residents. “Some of our Capel shire businesses, especially those in tourism, still doing it a bit tough after the pandemic, so a rate rise would have hurt them more than anything,” he said. “My belief is that rate payers understand and accept that if rates do not go up, their services can not be improved. “I think because of COVID, people are prepared to accept no increasing services if they don't want increased rates.” Capel residents can expect to receive final rates in coming weeks.