Over 4,000 submissions received by IPART on rate rise

IPART Tribunal Member Deborah Cope. CCN Feb 2021

Peninsula residents have been assured any submissions sent to IPART on Central Coast Council’s proposed 15 per cent rate rise will be taken into consideration before the regulator makes it decision in May.

IPART Acting Chair, Deborah Cope, said every one of the thousands of submissions received on the issue would be thoroughly examined.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal had received an unprecedented 4,100 private submissions, in addition to Council’s official request for a variation to allow for a 15 per cent rate increase from next year.

“We recognise this is a really tough time for ratepayers as well as for councils and we have to get the balance right,” Cope said.

“It is important that councils have the funds necessary to provide services but it also important that (rises) are not more than what is necessary.

“We welcome submissions from people on whether or not they think the application (for a rate rise variation) is reasonable or not.

“Submissions an integral part of what we do, and we will review them all; they will feed into our deliberations.”

Cope said the tribunal looked at four major areas when determining variation requests: Are people aware of what has been proposed? Is it affordable? Is there a demonstrated need for the money? and Has Council done the work to determine if there are other ways of saving money or possible revenue streams?

“We want to be sure people know what is proposed and we want to know if the proposal is affordable; submissions often provide important information here,” she said.

Cope said Council had reported its initial and amended surveys made available to residents.

“Based on that (amended) survey, 72 per cent of respondents said they favoured no rise,” she said.

“And half of those gave as their reason the mismanagement of Council.”

On the subject of rates harmonisation, which some experts are saying could see former Gosford residents pay as much as 42 per cent more than at present, Cope said that was a matter for Council to resolve.

“We are aware of the (rate) differentiation and we are also aware that some former Wyong ratepayers are upset at having paid higher rates for some time,” she said.

“But we set the percentage of how much the bucket can go up and then Council must go through the process with the community to find the right blend of rates across different areas and categories.”

IPART will accept submissions on the proposed rate rise until March 7 and will hand down its determination in May.

Terry Collins