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Council decides on Special Rate Variation

February 2, 2023 6:33 am in by

At a Council meeting on Wednesday (February 1) Bega Valley Shire Council voted to proceed with an application to IPART (Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal) for a permanent Special Rate Variation (SRV) of 43% spread over two years, in recognition of the financial challenges being faced by ratepayers.

“We voted for an SRV over two years that will generate the same additional revenue as a one off 43% increase over the 10-year Long Term Financial Plan; indicatively 24% in the first year and 21% in the second year,” Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said.

“We are in the unenviable position of seeking an increase in rates, however the cost to deliver services and maintain community assets continues to increase above the income Council obtains each year.

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“It places pressure on Council to continue to deliver the same services with less money.

The community consulation period on the four proposed SRV options closed on 16 January 2023 and Council recieved over 2,000 pieces of feedback online.

“We acknowledge and thank the community for their extensive feedback we received during the community engagement period.

“This, along with recent successful grant funding and an independent report we commissioned to assess the community’s capacity to pay, all contributed to today’s Council meeting decision.

“While realistically we need a 90% increase, we’ve listened to the community about the economic stresses they are experiencing but this reduction will impact our ability to deliver the same levels of service across our operations.

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“We simply won’t be able to do everything that is required over the next 10 years, such as renewing some of the key assets the community relies on and values including pools, buildings, roads and bridges, which will now be dependent on receiving full or partial grant funding.”

Cr Fitzpatrick said Council also committed to carry out an ongoing comprehensive asset and service review to ensure future financial sustainability.

“It’s important to note that this decision today is not about funding a single project or even a single year’s budget,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.

“It’s about providing the additional income needed to improve Council’s financial future for many years to come and focus on replacing our failing asset base.

“Council officers will lodge an application with IPART on Friday, which will assess other relevant information, including the communication we received from ratepayers during the public exhibition and consultation period.

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“The community still has the option to provide feedback directly with IPART, once our application form and supporting documents are published on the IPART website.

“IPART will then consider the application and a determination will be provided in May.

“If it is approved by IPART, the rate increase will come into effect from the first of July this year.”

Meanwhile the Snowy Monaro Regional Council voted on Monday (January 30) to apply for a 53% rate rise in the next financial year.

Both applications will now be considered by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.

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Image: James Fennessy – East Coast Radio

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