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Rate Peg of 0.7% is set to impact Council's bottom line

Concerns are mounting that Council's will find themselves underfunded in light of the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s (IPART) decision to set the rate peg for the 2022–23 financial year at 0.7%. Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Russell Fitzpatrick is calling on the NSW Government to address the funding crisis caused by rate peg

“While no-one likes to see rates go up, here in the Bega Valley a 0.7% rate increase equates to just $187,500,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.

“With a large geographic area to look after and a low rate base, this is crippling for us. It definitely won’t cover the increase in supplier and material costs that are going up at a phenomenal rate—up to 30% in some cases.

“We have already made significant cuts in our 2021–22 financial year Operational Plan and Budget as the 2% rate increase for that year didn’t even cover the increases to our insurances and the emergency services levy.

“This latest decision from IPART means we will need to make further cuts to our core services next financial year unless the Government intervenes—cuts the community can’t afford us to make, particularly as we are still recovering from the compounding effects of the Black Summer bushfires, multiple floods and COVID-19—but we currently have no other option.

“In the past week, Acting CEO Anthony McMahon and I have met with both the Local Government Minister and Shadow Local Government Minister to raise the impact of IPART’s decision on our ability to provide services to the community. They understand our predicament, but no commitments have been made.

“It is important that both major parties work together on a solution to the current position all councils across NSW are in.

“We are calling on the NSW Government to undertake a review that properly considers Award and Local Government Cost Index increases, in addition to COVID and supply chain impacts.

“We are also calling on the NSW Government to fund the gap between the 2.5% rate peg increase we were expecting and the 0.7% increase actually provided. The sustainability of local councils is at stake and we need the NSW Government’s help.

“We will also be submitting a motion to the upcoming Local Government NSW (LGNSW) Special Conference to seek their support in advocating for the needs of councils across the state to address the imbalance.”

The LGNSW Special Conference runs from 28 February to 2 March 2022. Most Eurobodalla Councillors in the previous term came to the decision to withdraw their membership from the LGNSW based around what could only be called pettiness and politics as they showed support for a fellow councillor who had been stood down from the LGNSW board. It was considered at the time that the LGNSW Board had become a Labor tool and, as such, too political. Given that the exiled councillor wore 'blue undies' rather than 'red' the fact that a leaked Code of Conduct complaint was revealed around actions by that councillor was ignored, the 'afront' the standing down caused was enough to rally around said councillor and declare that Council would not renew their membership and would take their marbles home. It is understood that the new Councillors have nominated Councillors Anthony Mayne, Tubby Harrison and Amber Schutz to attend the LGNSW Special Conference on 28 February – 2 March 2022. While they might be able to attend they will not be allowed to speak nor vote on the Bega Valley motion as Eurobodalla Council is not a member. There is little doubt that a motion will be brought forward to join the Local Government NSW body so that Council can once again benefit from the benefits availed to members including the right to raise issues and to vote.

Image: Unsplash


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