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Council will seek Special Rate Variation

dougkThu, 24/11/2016 - 11:49am

At MidCoast Council’s meeting on Wednesday 23 November the Administrator, John Turner, accepted the recommendation to issue a "notice of intention to apply" for a special rate variation (SRV). If successful this will result in an average annual residential rate increase of around $64 each year for four years.

You can have your say on a survey on the proposed rate variation here. (Survey closes 5 December.)

Council's press release reads:

The decision to formally express an intention to apply for a SRV comes in the lead-up to a December deadline for IPART [Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal] notification. At the same time the MidCoast community are being surveyed about their awareness of and willingness to support the SRV proposal, which seeks to address the condition of the region’s sealed road network and formed a key component of MidCoast Council's recent round of community meetings.

Glenn Handford, Interim General Manager, explains “Our initial priority as a merged Council was to review our asset position - in particular sealed roads and bridges. As part of this review we’ve identified a $5million shortfall per year in renewal funding for our sealed roads.  This comes as no surprise off the back of each of the three former councils’ asset positions, and unless we’re able to address this gap, the condition of our roads will worsen, and the community will become increasingly dissatisfied”.

“This is in addition to an estimated backlog of road works around $150 million”, Glenn added.

Providing notification to IPART of Council’s intention to apply for a SRV by the expected December deadline is the initial formal step to making an application.  “Feedback we’ve received through our community consultations to date has been generally receptive to the proposal. The results of the current survey will also play a role in informing our decision on whether to proceed further with the application”, added Glenn.

The NSW Government currently has a stated position that limits a merged Council from applying for a SRV for a 4-year period.  Based on that position, MidCoast Council’s management is working closely with the Government on finding a constructive way forward to address the asset issues faced across the region.  

The proposed SRV is for a 5% rate increase per year for 4 years, broken down as 2.5% each year for the rate-peg as specified by IPART and 2.5% each year for roads and bridges.  In addition, a 6% environmental levy is proposed to cover all three regions, replacing the existing levies in Manning and Great Lakes and introducing it in Gloucester.

“Complexities imposed by the IPART process require that any rate variations due for expiry in the proposed SRV period are dropped out, and then reintroduced as part of the new SRV application.  This means the impact of the current SRV proposal on ratepayers will vary depending on their location”, added Glenn.

Independent researchers, Jetty Research, are currently undertaking phone surveys with a statistically valid random selection of residents from across the MidCoast community.  To ensure everyone has a chance to provide input, the information pack and survey will be replicated online at the MidCoast Council website from Monday 28 November.

Through efficiencies and savings identified since the merger, Council has earmarked $18 million for roads and bridges over the next four years, but this alone is simply not enough. “If we don't take action now to increase our rates income our community will see further deterioration of our road and bridge infrastructure, and an ongoing increase in the asset backlog.  Tackling the renewal program and backlog of works in the immediate future provides a far more cost effective and fair proposition, than deferring it for future generations to deal with on a much larger scale”, Glenn said.

To review the proposed SRV and associated background information, visit ‘Have your say’ on the MidCoast Council website from Monday, where you can also take the online survey.  The survey will remain open until 4.30pm on Monday 5 December.

Following collation of all information and feedback from community meetings and surveys, as well as the outcomes of the asset review, a report will be presented to Council prior to the submission of a SRV application.  At this stage applications are expected to be lodged with IPART in February 2017.

(More details are available at http://www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/Council/Special-Rate-Variation)

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