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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Bega Council decides on Special Rate Variation over two years

Bega Valley Shire Council has voted to proceed with an application to IPART (Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal) for a permanent Special Rate Variation (SRV) of 43% spread over two years, in recognition of the financial challenges being faced by ratepayers.

“Today we voted for an SRV over two years that will generate the same additional revenue as a one off 43% increase over the 10-year Long Term Financial Plan; indicatively 24% in the first year and 21% in the second year,” Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said.

“We are in the unenviable position of seeking an increase in rates, however the cost to deliver services and maintain community assets continues to increase above the income Council obtains each year.

“It places pressure on Council to continue to deliver the same services with less money.

“We acknowledge and thank the community for their extensive feedback we received during the community engagement period.

“This, along with recent successful grant funding and an independent report we commissioned to assess the community’s capacity to pay, all contributed to today’s Council meeting decision.

“While realistically we need a 90% increase, we’ve listened to the community about the economic stresses they are experiencing.

‘However, this reduction will impact our ability to deliver the same levels of service across our operations.

“We simply won’t be able to do everything that is required over the next 10 years, such as renewing some of the key assets the community relies on and values including pools, buildings, roads and bridges, which will now be dependent on receiving full or partial grant funding.”

Cr Fitzpatrick said Council also committed to carry out an ongoing comprehensive asset and service review to ensure future financial sustainability.

“It’s important to note that this decision today is not about funding a single project or even a single year’s budget,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.

“It’s about providing the additional income needed to improve Council’s financial future for many years to come and focus on replacing our failing asset base.

“Council officers will lodge an application with IPART on Friday, which will assess other relevant information, including the communication we received from ratepayers during the public exhibition and consultation period.

“The community still has the option to provide feedback directly with IPART, once our application form and supporting documents are published on the IPART website.

“IPART will then consider the application and a determination will be provided in May.

“If it is approved by IPART, the rate increase will come into effect from the first of July this year.”

Above: “Today we voted for an SRV over two years that will generate the same additional revenue as a one off 43% increase over the 10-year Long Term Financial Plan; indicatively 24% in the first year and 21% in the second year,” Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said. It is of interest to reflect that Russel Fitzpatrick’s council re-election campaign reads:

‘If re-elected I commit to continue to: Keep RATES affordable’

The Bega Valley Shire Council, lead by Mayor and Liberal Candidate for Bega Russel Fitzpatrick has now voted to increase local rates by 43%.

Despite this balloon of almost 50%, and despite his electioneering promises to commit to continue to: "Keep RATES affordable" Mayor Fitzpatrick now says a 90% increase was needed and without it levels of services across operations would be reduced.

"However, this reduction will impact our ability to deliver the same levels of service across our operations.

“We simply won’t be able to do everything that is required over the next 10 years, such as renewing some of the key assets the community relies on and values including pools, buildings, roads and bridges, which will now be dependent on receiving full or partial grant funding.”

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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