Have your say to IPART
Submissions have opened for residents within the Federation Council Local Government Area to have their say on council's Special Rate Variation application with the determining body - the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART).
Federation Council is one of thirteen councils across NSW that have applied to (IPART) for a special variation to increase income from rates above the rate peg.
The Special Rate Variation proposed for Federation Council is for four years from 2023/24 to 2026/27 at 19%, 17%, 14% and 10%, inclusive of any maximum rate peg amount set by IPART each year.
IPART will determine the application across the following criterions: a demonstrated need for higher increases to charges; community awareness of their plans; a reasonable impact on ratepayers; a process to exhibit relevant council documents to the public; and a history of well-documented council productivity improvements and cost containment strategies.
“We will assess applications against the criteria established by the Office of Local Government, which require councils to demonstrate the need for the additional revenue, evidence of community consultation and an assessment of the impact on affected ratepayers,” IPART Tribunal Chair Carmel Donnelly said.
“This year some councils have applied for large increases in rates above the rate peg through special variations. We always conduct a feedback process where the community can have its say on the applications, IPART welcomes all input from residents about a council’s application for a special variation
and IPART is accepting submissions on the councils’ applications until March 3.”
Federation Council Mayor Pat Bourke said he is not surprised that there have been numerous SRV applications lodged from other councils, applying for increases from 2023/24 onwards.
“The past five years especially, has seen many councils apply and receive approval,” he said.
“I think the applications speak volumes for the current state that many councils across NSW are facing, from 45 years of rate pegging, where councils were never able to increase rates to a level to match the ever-increasing
costs to council from providing services including managing deteriorating assets such as roads.
“As an example, council’s road costs for materials alone increase conservatively above 10 to 15 per cent each year at times in areas such as diesel, emulsion, and aggregate, and of course significant electricity increases continue across our facilities as well.”
Mayor Bourke said council is aware there are some applications higher than Federation Council’s, and some being sought to be phased in over two and not four years like council has applied for.
“Every application in this round from the 13 councils across NSW that have applied will be assessed by IPART on their merits as they should be,” he said.
“Applications such as these are difficult decisions for any council to make, but I know our council has made its decision in the best interest of our communities for the long term. Our community for years has expressed their desire for our region to grow and prosper, and it needs to. And irrespective of any growth, council’s core services such as roads and other infrastructure need additional ongoing funding to get on top of the backlog caused by years of underfunding, and to bring maintenance levels up to responsible levels and of course
this comes at a cost.”
Mayor Bourke said council is very aware of the cost-of-living pressures in the LGA and that was a huge factor in its decision to take a staged approach of applying for an SRV that if successful could be implemented over a fouryear period.
“Council will also receive a report in the next few months, on pensioner subsidy options, to ensure we take into further consideration the impact our rate rise would have on our most financially vulnerable in our communities and to look at continued ways to best support these ratepayers,” he said.
“It’s an ongoing balance of addressing the significant and urgent asset needs such as roads and drainage, versus ensuring council is considerate of broader economic factors affecting our ratepayers. I can assure people it is always front of mind for this council.”
All NSW councils’ applications are available for review at: www.ipart.nsw.gov.au/ Home/ Industries/ Local- Government/ Reviews/Special-Variations-Minimum-Rates/ Special-Variations-Minimum-Rates-2023-24
The website also has information about how to lodge a submission.