Timeline extended for feedback on rates

Central Coast Rates Rise

Peninsula residents now have until February 1 to provide feedback to Central Coast Council on a proposed rate rise of 10-15 per cent next year.

Council has extended the deadline for its survey and added an option where residents can opt for no rate rise above the IPART peg.

Previously the survey allowed ratepayers only two options – to vote for a 10 per cent or a 15 per cent increase (over different timeframes).

The changes follow community backlash over limited options, with many choosing to lodge submissions direct with the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) and Peninsula Chamber of Commerce President, Matthew Wales, saying a rate rise was the “last thing” the Coast needs.

Wales said a rise would add a further layer of financial burden on landlords and businesspeople already doing it tough coming out of COVID-19.

Acting CEO Rik Hart said he was closely monitoring community sentiment as it was critical that voices were heard.

“Our very early and preliminary survey results are giving a strong indication that ratepayers feel restricted in their opportunity to express their views about the option of no rate rise at all,” Hart said.

“We have looked at less than 10 per cent of the survey responses, as there is a lot of data to process with over 3,300 surveys completed.

“More than half the respondents in this small sample don’t want any rate rise … and we are certainly seeing some similar commentary in letters to my office and the Administrator’s Office.

“I can totally understand this viewpoint.

“However, I need to make it clear that no rate rise is not a viable option.

“Council needs a rate rise to repay the restricted funds spent on community infrastructure and services and to deliver a level of service to the community that ensures our assets and essential services are maintained.

“I urge all community members to keep an open mind, consider the information put before them, and to provide their feedback before February 1.

“We are committed to capturing as much community feedback as we can in order for the Council to consider whether or not to formally apply to IPART for a Special Variation of the rates.”

Council has notified the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) of its intention to apply for a Special Variation (SV) of either a one-off 10 per cent rise remaining in the rate base for seven years or a one-off 15 per cent, remaining permanently in the rate base, inclusive of the 2021/22 rate peg of 2 per cent.

Information on the options being considered for a Special Variation as well as the survey for ratepayers and residents can be found at https://www.yourvoiceourcoast.com/all-projects/securing-your-future-rate-rise

Terry Collins