GUNNEDAH Shire ratepayers have received their latest rate notices – with an overall increase of 8.5 per cent.
The rise is the second in four years’ worth of increases approved last year by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) which will see an overall increase of 26.7 per cent by 2016-17.
The council applied for increases of between 4.5 per cent and 6.5 per cent above the pegged rate increase amount of 3.4 per cent a year.
The council applied for the increases to “improve financial sustainability and fund debt associated with the capital works program”.
IPART said in June last year the move would lead to increases of between $118 and $238 by 2016-17.
“Including the rate peg amount, we estimate that the average residential rate is likely to rise from $660 in 2012-13, to $880 in 2016-17,” IPART’s chairman Dr Peter Boxall said.
Council’s general manager Eric Groth said the extra revenue was necessary to ensure the community’s strategic plan – including infrastructure works identified by the community – could be carried out.
“There is no project in the operational plan that I am aware of that is not on target,” Mr Groth said.
In council’s operational plan adopted in June this year, the message from the general manager said since the rates variation began, council had maintained “the high level of service delivery that residents have told us they want and expect”.
“Major road renewal upgrades, better footpaths and cycle ways as well as new playgrounds are just some of the many improvements already achieved,” Mr Groth said in the message.
“The upcoming financial year will see a number of major projects being commenced that will provide significant benefits for our community.
“The renewal and upgrade of the Gunnedah Memorial Pool Complex and the Blackjack Creek Flood Mitigation Program are two multi-million dollar projects that will deliver considerable amenity improvement for our community.”
IPART said in its approval that the rates increase would mean an extra $5.8 million for council to be used to improve its financial position and fund loans to address renewals and upgrades of roads, plant, swimming pool, kerb and guttering and public buildings.
Mr Groth said despite last year’s increase, the council received only one application for a payment arrangement to be made because of hardship circumstances.
“There has been one case, and I can genuinely say I haven’t heard a lot of comment about rates,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we are talking about the cost of less than a cup of coffee per week on average rates.”
Mayor Owen Hasler said the council had also met its savings target of just over $430,000 a year as identified in the review report by Blackadder and Associates.
Councillor David Quince, who voted against the rates increase last year, said this week he believed the mining industry should be bearing more of the cost.
“You would have to be Blind Freddy to drive into the main street of Gunnedah and not see that 20-30 per cent of the vehicles that are there are mining-related,” Cr Quince said.
“I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, what I am saying is let them carry their fair share of the weight.”
He said Gunnedah farmers had “endured 12 years of very bad seasons and plunging commodity prices” and should not be facing ever-increasing rates.
The council has said Gunnedah Shire properties have been revalued and the new land values had been used to calculate rates this year.
Council has urged ratepayers to check their rates and charges notice and contact council’s customer service team with inquiries on 6740 2100 or email [email protected]苏州美甲美睫培训学校.au
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