Mayor Isaac Smith addresses Lismore City Council about increasing rates.
Mayor Isaac Smith addresses Lismore City Council about increasing rates.

Lismore takes next step to increase rates

LISMORE City Council has joined two other NSW councils in notifying for a special rate variation (SRV) to increase its general income above the rate peg in 2020-21.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) received three applications from Lismore, Georges River and Bega Valley LGAs regarding their intention to apply for a SRV.

Councils were asked to notify IPART by November 29.

After completing multiple surveys, the council will have further opportunities until February 10, 2020 to consult with the Lismore community and submit their applications for a special variation increase.

Lismore City Council has applied to have its SRV rolled out between 2020 to 2024 to provide a staggered increase of 7.5, 9.4, 3.9 and 3.2 per cent increases over four years.

IPART had set the 2020-21 rate peg for 2.6 per cent but will work with the council to assess whether its application is appropriate.

Last month, Mayor Isaac Smith said the decision to support the SRV was one of the "hardest decisions" ever made by the council.

The SRV will be used to improve the $52 million road repair backlog the council is currently facing.

Under the rate peg, all NSW councils are eligible to increase their general income from rates by up to 2.6 per cent in 2020-21.

Councils seeking a larger increase must consult with their communities and seek IPART approval, before they are able to adopt higher rates.

IPART will begin assessing the applications against criteria set out in the Office of Local Government's guidelines from February 2020.

These criteria include demonstrating the need for the additional income, evidence of adequate community awareness and an assessment of the reasonableness of the increase and impact on ratepayers.

Ratepayers and other stakeholders can have their say by contacting their council or lodging a submission to IPART.

IPART will be accepting submissions from February 10, 2020.

For full details about 2020-21 special variations, including how to make a submission to IPART, visit www.ipart.nsw.gov.au.



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