Bega Valley residents will be consulted on Bega Valley Shire councillors recommendation to increase rates by 90 per cent from the 2023/24 financial year.
The special rate variation is one of four options that was discussed at Wednesday’s (November 16) council meeting.
The second option is for a 45 per cent rise in the first year, and a 37.2 per cent variation in the second year.
Option three would see a 43 per cent Special Rate Variation, which council staff acknowledged would see the council fall almost $14 million per year short of the revenue it requires over the next 10 years.
Otherwise councillors could choose to not request an special variation at all, relying solely on the noted rate peg of 4.1 per cent for the 2023-24 financial year.
Council staff say the 90 per cent option allows for long-term sustainability and will allow council to meet the rising costs of delivering services and maintaining and renewing the shire’s assets.
Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Anthony McMahon said the Long Term Financial Plan 2023-32 has been updated and includes all options that call for an additional increase to the shire’s rate base through a SRV.
“Over the last 10 years or so our expenses have been rising well beyond our income due to reductions in federal grants, significant cost escalations in materials and the compounding effect of multiple natural disasters,” Mr McMahon said.
“To remain financially sustainable into the future, we either need to increase our income or significantly reduce the services and assets we provide across our whole community.
“The updated 10-year Long Term Financial Plan, which includes options to address these challenges, is on public exhibition as of Wednesday 16 November.
“An endorsement of the plan does not mean we have decided to increase rates, only that we will advise IPART (Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal) we are going to discuss this with our community.
“As it stands, we do not have the funds needed to continue maintaining the community’s assets or to continue providing the vast range of services the community relies on.”
Mr McMahon said before any application is made to IPART, Council will connect with the community over the coming months to discuss the options.
“The community will be able to provide feedback via an online survey on Council’s website from 16 November, talk to Councillors and senior Council staff at local markets, town hall information sessions and an online meeting,” Mr McMahon said.
The community consultation will continue through to 16 January 2023.
“When we have a full picture of how the community feels about a proposed rate increase, Councillors will meet again in February to decide on how we proceed,” Mr McMahon said.
More information is available on Council’s website.
Image: James Fennessy