Push for special rate rises
STRATEGY SEEN AS FINANCIALLY PRUDENT IN THE LONG RUN
RATEPAYERS will fork out an extra 2.4 per cent over current rate levels each year to 2020 if Penrith Council’s plan to fund future services and assets is approved.
This means ratepayers with an average land value of $250,000 can expect to pay and extra $54.50 in the 2016-2017 financial year, an extra $59.50 the following period, then $65 in the next year, growing to $71 in the 2019-20 financial year – this represents a total $250 increase per household over the next four years.
The special rate variation request is in line with the council’s long-term financial plan and was included in its response to the State Government’s Fit For the Future reforms.
Bolstered by the green tick given to the council in last week’s Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal report, which made it the only Western Sydney council among 36 NSW councils considered financially fit, Mayor Karen McKeown defended the proposal.
“It seems many
other councils failed to see the writing on the wall,” Ms McKeown said.
Penrith’s submission to IPART included a proposal to continue the Asset Renewal and Established Areas Strategy special rate variation.
“AREAS enabled us to do more than just the bare minimum with many of our roads and buildings and has paid off in the long run by avoiding major repairs and upgrades,” Ms McKeown said.
Acting general manager Barry Husking said measures were in place to help the most vulnerable in the community such as pensioners who would be hardest hit by the change.
Two other options include a plan to maintain services with no change to the current rate levels, which would see the asset renewal backlog grow.
The third option proposes a decrease in services with the discontinuation of AREAS and a one-off reduction to rates.