Special rate variations approved for five Sydney councils

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has approved five Sydney council applications to increase general income, in an effort to support infrastructure development.

IPART Chair Dr. Paul Paterson said special variations give councils the flexibility to generate additional income above the 2.7 per cent rate peg.

“In making these assessments we have considered whether there is a genuine financial need for additional revenue, to allow a council to be financially sustainable and fund infrastructure projects or asset renewal,” Dr. Paterson said.

“We also look at efforts made by the various councils to reduce their costs and identify other sources of revenue, as well as the capacity and willingness of ratepayers to pay the requested increase.”

Applications from Burwood, Hunters Hill, Ku-ring-gai, Randwick and Sutherland Council have been approved in full.

According to Dr. Paterson, Burwood Council’s application stated funds would be used to reduce infrastructure backlog and support the renewal of roads and kerbs.

“Based on the council’s application, the average residential rate will increase by $59 in 2019-20 or by $254 over four years, while the average business rate will rise by $257 in 2019-20 or by $1,125 over four years,” Dr. Paterson said.

“We consider the impact of the increase is reasonable, given the council’s need for additional funding to address its infrastructure backlog without compromising existing levels of service.”

Dr. Paterson said Hunters Hill’s application was approved in order to fund ongoing infrastructure maintenance.

“Hunters Hill Council’s application largely met the criteria in the Office of Local Government’s Guidelines for approval of the special variation it requested,” Dr. Paterson said.

“Based on the council’s application, the average residential rate will increase by $170 in 2019-20, while the average business rate will rise by $162.”

According to Dr. Paterson, approval will allow North Sydney Council to meet Office of Local Government benchmarks for financial sustainability and infrastructure.

“We are satisfied the council has partly demonstrated financial need for the additional revenue to improve its financial sustainability, maintain, renew and invest in its infrastructure, reduce its infrastructure backlog and maintain existing services,” Dr. Paterson said.

If adopted in 2019-20, increases in the average residential rates across the NSW metropolitan councils will range from $40 in the case of Ku-ring-gai and up to $170 in Hunter’s Hill.

Council applications are independently assessed by IPART against the NSW Government’s published criteria.

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