Rate pegging decided at May meeting

THE council will consider in May a draft budget covering next financial year.

It follows the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal setting a 3.4 per cent rate peg limit for the state's councils.

The rate peg represents the maximum allowable increase to general council income unless a special rate rise is granted. Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's draft budget will go on public exhibition in May before being formally adopted in June. The 3.4 per cent rate peg only impacts on council's general fund activities.

Council general manager Tony Hayward said the other business activities of water, sewerage and waste collection had the ability to levy fees and charges that generate a revenue stream to provide a level of service in line with community expectations.

"With the announcement of the rate peg, council staff will now be able to move ahead and develop general fund scenarios as part of the budget modelling for next financial year," Mr Hayward said.

He said the council had not applied for a special rate variation for the 2013-14 financial year.

IPART approved in June this year to permanently apply a 7.3 per cent rate increase with an additional 4.43 per cent increase in the rate base for a period of five years.

"The decision of IPART for the additional 4.43 per cent for five years has enabled council to forward plan and prioritise projects, particularly roads maintenance works, with greater financial security," Mr Hayward said.

IPART chairman Dr Peter Boxall said in setting the rate peg, IPART sought to strike a balance between ensuring councils can meet the increased costs of delivering services while sharing the benefits of improved productivity with ratepayers.

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