At the Shoalhaven City Council Ordinary Meeting held on 25 October 2016, Council determined to notify IPART of its intent to lodge a Special Rate Variation application in the new year. Council will undertake community engagement with three models of rate increase options of either: 11.5% over 2 years; 6.27% over 4 years or 5% over 7 years (plus the rate peg) however any action to implement this decision is on hold until a Rescission motion lodged by Councillors Watson, Guile and Pakes is considered in November.
It was also decided that Council will also work on anomalies within the rating categories that would possibility produce that rate income and that Council will consult with the community and report back on how we can model the community’s capacity to pay.
This rate increase is necessary to assist Council to financially support the ongoing provision of service levels to the community and address the long standing issues requiring additional expenditure on infrastructure renewal, maintenance and backlog works to meet community expectations and the State Government Fit for the Future financial benchmarks.
It was acknowledged that there is a need to balance rate rises and the ability for ratepayers to pay. Council will undertake an extensive community engagement program explaining the reason for the rate increase and seek the community’s’ comments before the final model is determined and council makes its formal application to IPART in February next year. Hardship programs are available for genuine hardship cases.
Mayor Findley said, “Council needs to make some tough decisions to ensure the financial sustainability of council is maintained and we can improve the management of our assets”
“Many of our assets require renewal as they were constructed over 30 years ago and our current expenditure on renewals is only about a third of the required amount”
“It is important for Council to be able to continue to serve our community to provide for our community’s needs, we need to protect Council in the future to ensure services stay and are not reduced or removed.”
“We want services to be kept for the people. We want to keep our halls, our parks, our roads, our childcare centres, our libraries and recreational facilities. Therefore we need to be able to be fit for the future and sustainable in the long term.”
“Extensive community engagement is essential for this proposal and the community will certainly have their opportunity to have their say.”
“It is important for our community to understand how money is spent within Council and the limitations on Council’s ability to raise money to support our services.”
“We need to hear our community’s views on this proposal and for the community to understand the reasons behind the proposal, particularly the significant financial restrictions Council faces”
“If we want to keep providing services and facilities for the community then it is essential that we have this conversation and that we undertake responsible financial action. We may not use all the minor services that council offers, but they all contribute to the overall wellbeing of our community.”