Shire loses legal fight over residential rates

Geoff VivianMidwest Times

The Shire of Yalgoo will miss out on about $5000 in residential rates every year after losing a case in the State Administrative Tribunal earlier this month.

The Shire is one of three that refused requests from the Murchison Region Aboriginal Corporation to exempt its housing properties from rates. MRAC then appealed to the tribunal.

When asked how much the Shire of Yalgoo had spent on legal fees to defend the case, chief executive Silvio Brenzi said he could not divulge specific costs on legal matters.

MRAC owns and rents properties to Aboriginal tenants on Campbell, Henty, Milligan and Selwyn streets in Yalgoo, as well as in other towns throughout the Mid West and Gascoyne.

The Aboriginal corporation obtained rates exemptions from nine local authorities last year on the grounds it was a charity.

The agency agreed to pay those shires and the City of Greater Geraldton 20 per cent of what the rates would have been if the properties were not owned by a charity.

The Shire of Yalgoo has until April 2 to appeal.

MRAC chief executive Mary Marshall said she would not comment on the decision until the appeal period was over.

Shire of Mount Magnet chief executive Kelvin Matthews said the council would decide whether to proceed when it met on March 23.

“Our position was always to wait and see what happened with Yalgoo. I bought a bit of time and asked for a deferment with SAT,” he said.

Shire of Meekatharra chief executive Roy McClymont said shire lawyers had attended a directions hearing at the SAT on March 12 but were yet to report to their client.

“We will consider the matter further when we receive advice from our lawyers,” he said.

The Shire of Meekatharra council was due to meet last Saturday.

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