Which rate rise is ‘a conversation that our community has to have’

Central Coast Council is opening community consultation about the rate rise options to give residents a chance to have their say.

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 percent increase remaining in the rate base for seven years, or a one-off 15 percent increase remaining permanently in the rate base, inclusive of the 2021-2022 rate peg of two percent.

In 2021-22 the Option 1 increase would consist of the annual two percent rate peg and a further eight percent SV that would be applied once in 2021-22 and stay for seven years.

This option forecasts substantial reductions in the levels of service provided to the community and some elimination of services.

With a 10 percent rate rise, the average residential increase will be $2.13 a week and the average business increase will be $6.11 a week.

Option 2 is the Securing Your Future Option of a 15 percent rate rise.

In 2021-22 this increase would consist of the annual two percent rate and a further 13 percent SV that would and remain permanently in the rate base.

This option forecasts the maintenance of the current levels of service.

With a 15 percent rate rise the average residential increase will be $3.20 a week and the average business increase will be $9.30 a week.

Acting CEO, Rik Hart, said he understood community concern about paying more rates, but this was needed for Council’s long-term financial security and ongoing service delivery, which would benefit everyone.

“We have been open with the community about our financial situation and are taking significant steps to help our bottom line by selling assets, reducing staff numbers and materials and contracts, reducing the capital works program, looking at fees and charges and we have been able to secure further loans,” Hart said.

“The last thing we want to do is put more burden on our ratepayers, but if we do not have a substantial increase in our rate income as well, then even harder decisions will need to be made.

“For our community, that would mean a significant reduction or even elimination of services that they need and rely on us to provide.

“Our first priority has to be the repayment of restricted funds, which were unlawfully used, so that does not become a burden for future generations.

“This is a conversation that our community has to have and we want to hear from as many residents and ratepayers as possible,” Hart said.

“I urge all community members to keep an open mind, consider the information put before them and to provide feedback over the coming weeks before Council determines in early February whether or not to formally apply to IPART for a Special Variation.”

Council will consider a report about the Special Variation options, inclusive of community feedback at the Council meeting on February 8.

Media release, Jan 11
Central Coast Council