Councils saved from rates hike
THE independent body that monitors council efforts to increase their rates has spared ratepayers of the Byron Shire and Richmond Valley councils from big cost increases.
However, the news for ratepayers isn’t all good. Both councils will still be able to lift rates – just not beyond the Government-mandated 2.8% cap.
Richmond Valley Council had asked the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal to let it lift rates by nearly 6%, while Byron Shire Council had wanted a 5.33% hike.
In announcing the decisions on rate variations for the 2011-2012 financial year, Tribunal chairman Rod Sims said 23 of NSW’s 152 councils had applied for increases above the cap.
Of those, the tribunal gave full approval to only nine councils.
“The general quality of the applications we received was high, although some councils failed to convince us that they had adequately met the criteria set by the NSW Government” Mr Sims, said.
“Each application was carefully assessed by IPART against the NSW Government’s published criteria. We also considered submissions received directly from ratepayers, business groups, community groups and ratepayer associations.
“Where an application sought larger increases, or the increases compounded over several years, we wanted to see a significant degree of community support for the expenditure items and a willingness to pay for them.”
The Tribunal estimates the 2.8% increase allowed to all councils would add 50 cents per week to the average rates bill.