Council Meeting Recaps - OCM (24 April 2024)

Published on Wednesday, 1 May 2024 at 1:00:00 PM


Hello, I’m Vivienne MacCarthy, President of the Shire of Donnybrook Balingup.

Welcome to this summary of the Ordinary Council Meeting that was held on 24 April 2024.

You can listen to a full recording of the meeting recording on the Shire’s website, where you will also find the Minutes and Attachments for the meeting.


In item 9.1.1 of the agenda, the Director of Operations presented a new Disability Access and Inclusion Plan (DAIP) to guide the Shire’s activities over the next five years. The Plan was informed by feedback from 121 community members through surveys, group discussions and 1-on-1 engagement with community members.

A centrepiece of the plan is the development of a Disability Reference Group, with the aim of capturing community expertise for projects as they arise. The Executive aims to embed the plan in all departments, infrastructure projects, programs, events and communications to achieve transformational change in access and inclusion within our Shire.


In item 9.1.2, Council approved an application to build two, single bedroom dwellings in Brockman Steet, Balingup.

Council approved the application with conditions and advice attached, and welcomed the construction of the proposed new dwellings at a time when housing and accommodation is in great need.


At item 9.1.3, Council approved a second development application for a two-year extension of an Extractive Industry Licence on Byron Road in Upper Capel.

This will allow the applicant to complete the removal of a remaining gravel stockpile and carry out rehabilitation work.


The Shire Executive prepared reports and recommendations for four (4) Electors Motions that were put forward at the February Annual General Meeting of Electors (AGM). Council approved three of the four motions:

The first at item 9.1.4 was the provision of an SMS service to alert Harvest Bans during Periods of Extreme Fire Danger. 

The second item, at 9.1.5, related to the Donnybrook Water Reserve Drinking Water Source Protection Plan. Council noted that the Shire’s Local Planning Scheme no. 7 and the Draft Local Planning Strategy contain provisions that are consistent with the plan. Concern was raised over the relevance of the Department of Environment and Water Resources strategy that was written in 2009. Council requested a meeting with DWER to highlight the many changes impacting the strategy since that time and ally public concerns regarding security and quality of the town’s drinking water.

The third Elector‘s Motion, at item 9.1.6, related to Recreational Water Testing. While it was noted that the Shire already undertakes a level of testing, Council requested the Chief Executive Officer to explore additional opportunities to participate in a Recreational Water Monitoring Program consistent with the Department of Health guidelines. A report is to be presented to Council prior to October 2024.

The final Electors Motion, at 9.3.3, was to livestream Audit and Risk Committee Meetings, and this was rejected by Council. A key reason for not livestreaming the Audit & Risk Committee Meetings was that often the discussions are of a confidential nature, or are exploring a sensitive risk item that requires detailed analysis to understand the extent of the risk. Another deciding factor was that discussions at Committee meetings are not final. A Committee makes recommendations for consideration by the full Council at Agenda Briefings with a decision made at the Ordinary Council Meeting. Both meetings (the Agenda Briefing Session and Ordinary Council Meeting) are livestreamed.


At item 9.2.2, the Manager of Financial Services presented Monthly Financial Report for March 2024. The closing surplus is sitting at $5.1m, and based on the projections in the Budget Review adopted by Council last month, the projected closing surplus at 30 June will be $124,295.

This change from teh $5.1m to the $124k is driven by several factors:

  • We have major projects that will not be completed by the end of June. The underspend on these projects will be carried forward to the new financial year.
  • Rates and grant funding is received early in the financial year which is then used each month to meet expenditure, gradually reducing the surplus balance each month.

Another interesting item in the report was that the loan supporting the VC Mitchell Park (VCMP) Project has been drawn down, and contributed $2.9m to the surplus. These funds will be invested until they are required.

This gives us a total cash balance which sits at $14.6 million, and of this, $10.2 is held in investments as of 30 April 2024.


At item 9.3.1, Council received the Biannual Progress Report of our Council Plan.

Community engagement and feedback was captured back in 2022, resulting in a 10-year Plan that is now reviewed every two (2) years, and this supports our Long-Term Financial Planning.

Captured in the Plan are 163 operational and capital projects with 54 of these allocated to this financial year. By December 2023, 16 projects had been achieved, 22 are in progress, 5 require monitoring and 11 have been marked for deferment.

Keep an eye out for upcoming media releases on key projects from the Plan. 


Finally, at item 9.3.2, a very compelling snapshot was provided for Council with the 2024-25 Asset Management Plans, Reserve Fund Plan, Borrowings Plan and Ratings Objectives Strategy.

These reports are ‘informing strategies’ that play a crucial role in helping Councillors understand the decisions we face, especially as we approach the Long-Term Financial Plan and Annual Budget process. We consider these reports in line with community expectations that are set out in the Council Plan.

The Shire manages a total asset portfolio that is valued at $335m. Each year, we set aside Reserve Funds from our annual budget as a future savings to cover the future costs of maintenance and renewal of our assets.

These reports highlight that our savings are falling well below what is required. Within our Long-Term Financial Plan, an initial shortfall of $1m is identified in the coming year, this grows each year to reach $1.7m per year, in seven years’ time.

The Council and the Executive Team have strived to highlight the compelling need to address the gaps identified in the Asset Management Plan. Now, Councillors, community members and Shire Executive each have a role to play in identifying opportunities to ensure that we and future generations continue to enjoy a level of amenity from our assets that is also affordable.

Councillors and Executive will conduct a series of workshops to explore possible options, ensuring that we engage with community and receive feedback along the way.


Thank you for listening to this meeting summary of our April Ordinary Council Meeting.

The next Council meeting will be held on Wednesday 15 May 2024, at the Council Chambers.



If you would like more information on any of the items mentioned here, please view the Council Meeting Minutes.

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