Monday, February 8, 2016

Early Problems Faced by the Councils – road making and rate raising

The two new Councils that had been formed in 1853 and 1854 faced a difficult task in their role as road-making bodies for they found it hard to raise an adequate rate. The meeting place for the Munno Para East Council was the One Tree Hill Inn, and it was here on 16 January 1854 that the first meeting of the new council was held, with Philip Butler unanimously elected Chairman. At the meeting of 20 March 1854, the council resolved that a rate of 1 shilling in the pound be proposed to the meeting of ratepayers, held at the One Tree Hill Inn on 27 March. At this meeting and at that those held for the following two years, 1855 and 1856, the ratepayers voted to adopt the 1 shilling rate over proposals for a lower one, such as a farthing or sixpence.  However, once initial support died away the shilling rate was less popular. In 1857 a public meeting voted for only a farthing rate but this was overruled by a meeting of the district councillors the following month when they decided that there should be a 6d rate. From then on the 6d rate became the norm for many years.
A similar situation occurred in the Munno Para West council area. The first meeting of this council took place on 8 May 1854 at Salisbury when James Sparshott was elected Chairman by the councillors. After this initial meeting the venue for council meetings became the Plough and Harrow Hotel at Penfield until a building in the township intended to be used as a Wesleyan chapel was bought from William Penfold in 1862 for 168 pounds.

On 2 October 1854 a public meeting was held at Walpole’s public house (the General Bolivar on the Port Wakefield Road) in order to fix a rate. It was resolved by a large majority that a rate of one farthing in the pound be adopted. This was a very low rate indeed and reflected both the financial difficulties of the early settlers, most of whom were small famers with little in the way of cash or assets, and also a degree of misunderstanding of the needs of the council. The following year the rate went up to 3d and gradually, with a few lapses, it increased to 6d by the end of the decade. There is no doubt that in the cases of both councils the low rates hindered effective building and maintenance of roads and bridges.

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