Liverpool Plains Shire Council (LPSC) is set to kick off a comprehensive community consultation process on a proposed rate increase, after having formally notified the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) of its intention to apply for a Special Rate Variation (SRV).
LPSC Mayor, Councillor Doug Hawkins OAM, said ratepayers would soon receive a flyer containing further information on the proposal, with Council to launch an online consultation site dedicated to the SRV and holding information sessions across the region in the New Year.
“As with many other councils across rural and regional NSW, LPSC is struggling to provide the broad range of services that we do and maintain our assets and infrastructure at the standard our community expects,” he said.
“Each year, IPART sets a rate peg that limits the amount by which local councils can increase their total rate revenue by, and unfortunately, the rate peg has not kept pace with the increasing costs of delivering services, maintaining and improving our assets, and running a contemporary local government organisation.
“While Council has contained rates to the rate peg for the past five years, the costs of providing services and maintaining infrastructure have increased and they will continue to increase over the years ahead,” he continued.
Councillor Hawkins said an SRV is required for Council to maintain existing services, improve its financial sustainability, and fund infrastructure maintenance and renewal.
“We’ve been incredibly fortunate in recent years to receive funding from the NSW and Commonwealth Governments to deliver some major infrastructure projects across the shire, with several more in the pipeline,” he said.
“However, with new and improved assets comes increased maintenance costs and increased depreciation fund; all on top of the costs we must meet in maintaining our roads, bridges, footpaths, water and sewer infrastructure, and public buildings.
“Over recent years, Council has also increased the number of services it provides to the community, and while some of our community and recreation services operate in a cost-neutral manner, others are operating at a significant loss,” he continued.
Councillor Hawkins encouraged all community members to have their say on the proposed SRV, by participating in Council’s program of consultation exercises over the coming weeks or providing a submission to IPART.
“This is a conversation our community has to have, and we want to hear from as many residents and ratepayers as possible,” he 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 for an SRV,” he concluded.
Further information on the SRV process is available from IPART’s website at www.ipart.nsw.gov.au.