Hindmarsh wins rate-cap ap­proval

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Hindmarsh Shire Coun­cil has been suc­cess­ful in its ap­pli­ca­tion for a rate­cap vari­a­tion to the Es­sen­tial Ser­vices Com­mis­sion.

The coun­cil had ap­plied for an ad­di­tional two per­cent in­crease over and above the State Gov­ern­ment’s two-per­cent rate cap for 2017-18.

The com­mis­sion re­sponded to the re­quest, say­ing it was sat­is­fied the ap­pli­ca­tion showed a long-term fund­ing need.

In its of­fi­cial re­sponse the com­mis­sion said: “Hindmarsh needs the higher cap to help man­age as­sets and de­liver ser­vices in the long-term in­ter­ests of ratepay­ers and the com­mu­nity.

“In 2017-18, Hindmarsh will use the ex­tra rev­enue to up­grade road as­sets.

“We are sat­is­fied that the ap­pli­ca­tion shows a need to in­vest in road as­sets.

“This is sup­ported by the coun­cil’s long-term fi­nan­cial plan­ning and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment.”

Hindmarsh Shire Coun­cil de­cided in May to ap­ply to the Es­sen­tial Ser­vices Com­mis­sion for a higher rate cap of four per­cent for 2017-18.

Mayor Debra Nel­son said the coun­cil ar­ranged eight com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion meet­ings across the shire to dis­cuss the is­sue at length and re­ceive feed­back.

“The de­ci­sion to ap­ply for a rate-cap vari­a­tion was not made lightly,” she said.

“The coun­cil is very mind­ful of our com­mu­nity’s ca­pac­ity to pay and recog­nises that most peo­ple don’t en­joy pay­ing rates, which are es­sen­tially a tax, but the re­al­ity is that our rev­enue has been greatly re­duced by re­duc­tions in state and fed­eral fund­ing.”

The coun­cil’s long-term fi­nan­cial plan had orig­i­nally been pre­pared al­low­ing for a five per­cent in­crease in rates for 2017-18 and the fol­low­ing two years to main­tain ser­vice lev­els and re­newal of ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

Cr Nel­son said the Vic­to­rian Au­di­tor Gen­eral recog­nised that ru­ral shire coun­cils would be un­able to re­main sus­tain­able into the medium and dis­tant fu­ture without find­ing ex­tra money.

“While the coun­cil has ex­am­ined its busi­ness op­er­a­tions and im­ple­mented a range of ini­tia­tives to cut costs and continues to lobby for ex­tra fund­ing, we will in­evitably be at a dis­ad­van­tage be­cause of our ge­o­graph­i­cal chal­lenges,” she said.

“Hindmarsh Shire cov­ers 7500 square kilo­me­tres, has more than 3000 kilo­me­tres of roads and six bridges to main­tain. The loss of a mil­lion dol­lars a year from a Coun­try Roads and Bridges pro­gram has had a detri­men­tal ef­fect on main­tain­ing our road net­works, which are so im­por­tant to our agri­cul­ture busi­nesses and wider com­mu­nity.

“The ad­di­tional rate rev­enue will be used to main­tain the road net­work.”

Hindmarsh Shire Coun­cil ap­proved its draft bud­get at its last coun­cil meet­ing and has re­leased it for pub­lic com­ment.

The coun­cil in­vites writ­ten sub­mis­sions from the pub­lic, which it will con­sider be­fore adopt­ing the bud­get on Au­gust 23.

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