Council welcomes Special Rate Variation approval

17 May, 2016Posted in: Community
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Wingecarribee Shire Mayor Larry Whipper has welcomed today’s announcement from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) of Council’s successful Special Rate Variation (SRV) application.

Following a period of sustained community engagement Council at its meeting of 10 February 2016 resolved to apply for an SRV to reduce infrastructure backlogs and achieve sustainability indicators set by the NSW State Government’s ‘Fit for the Future’ Local Government Reform program.

Council applied for a cumulative rate increase of 45.3% from 2016 to 2020, with the 2019-20 proposed increase to include continuation of the Environmental Levy in perpetuity.

IPART has approved Council’s application with percentage increases to be applied as follows:

  • 2016-17 8.55%
  • 2017-18 9.25%
  • 2018-19 9.25%
  • 2019-20 12.15% (includes continuation of the Environmental Levy)

Councillor Whipper has hailed the SRV approval a win for the future of the Shire and the environment, and a sign of confidence from the independent regulator that Council was ‘Fit for the Future’.

“The decision from IPART provides a framework for long term sustainability for Wingecarribee Shire as a standalone local government area,” Clr Whipper said.

“Council is now able to get down to business and bring vital infrastructure such as roads, parks and community facilities up to a standard that is expected by ratepayers and residents.

“During the extensive community engagement program undertaken prior to Council submitting its SRV application, people overwhelming said they expected better infrastructure and were willing to pay for it.

“The decision from IPART today provides a mechanism for Council to align sound asset management principles and community expectations with financial strategy – it’s an investment in the future.”

Specifically IPART’s approval states:

“Our decision enables the council to use the additional revenue from the special variation to fund operating and capital expenditures for:

  • the continuation of the Wingecarribee Our Future Environment program;
  • increased infrastructure maintenance for roads, buildings, drainage and parks ;
  • infrastructure renewals for roads, buildings, drainage and parks; and
  • asset upgrades for roads and drainage,” the approval said.

Council’s application was assessed and approved against the following criteria:

  1. Need for proposed revenue;
  2. Community awareness of proposed rate increases;
  3. Impact on the proposed rate rises on ratepayers (capacity to pay);
  4. Integrated Planning and Reporting documents had been exhibited; and
  5. Past and future productivity savings.

In IPART’s determination it confirmed Council’s application met all the required criteria, and in particular acknowledged while the impact of the proposed rate rises on ratepayers was substantial, the increases were reasonable given the socioeconomic indicators for the region and hence capacity to pay.

Clr Whipper confirmed IPART’s approval would also allow continuation, in perpetuity, of Council’s award-winning environmental program.

“This is great news for the environment,” Clr Whipper said.

“Working in partnership with community organisations, Council has achieved a lot to protect our unique Wingecarribee environment.  The announcement today ensures that this work will continue into the future.”

IPART’s approval of the SRV is subject to the following conditions:

  • Council must use the additional income to improve financial sustainability and reduce infrastructure backlogs as outlined in its SRV application; and
  • That Council reports in its annual report each year expenditure of the funds against programs outlined in its SRV application.

“I thank the Shire’s residents for their support and patience during this Special Rate Variation application process,” Clr Whipper added. “And I assure them these extra funds will be channeled to key infrastructure and environmental projects that will ensure our Shire is an even better place to live.”

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