Councillors laud special rate variation | video

Rate welcomed: Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann.
Rate welcomed: Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann.

Councillor Justin Levido has described the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s decision to grant council a special rate variation as ‘a good result’.

The councillor said IPART had seen the logic in council’s submission.

“This was an issue of some heat in the recent election and we have been able to present a logical argument to the community,” he said.

Cr Peter Alley reminded the chamber that the IPART decision did not change the affordability of rates.

“The rates you paid last year will be basically the same this year. The affordability stays the same,” he said.

In a report tabled at the May meeting, IPART noted that council had considered a number of alternative funding sources.

“The council has considered a number of alternative revenue options such as user fees and charges, borrowing, and funding expenditure from reserves,” the report said.

“In the case of user charges and fees, the council concluded the implementation of road access fees would be impractical. Borrowing was ruled out as an alternative funding source due to the ongoing nature of roads maintenance expenditure.

The rates you paid last year will be basically the same this year. The affordability stays the same.

Cr Peter Alley

“While the council has a relatively high level of reserves, 70% of the $214 million cash and reserves balance is externally restricted and allocated to specific funding purposes, and hence could not be redirected to the maintenance and renewal of the council’s road network.”

Cr Rob Turner said the special rate variation is, effectively, a continuation of our current income.

“This money needs to be spent on our roads, particularly roads and unsealed roads and they are singled out in IPART’s report,” he said.

“Council has to account to IPART on how this money is spent on these roads.

“If we can use this money to keep the maintenance level in hand, gradually, we may be able to start sealing those roads that have a significant impact on residents’ lives.”

Cr Sharon Griffiths attempted to include a council review of the special rate variation after four year period.

But this met with a quick rebuke from the deputy mayor, Cr Intemann. “Cr Griffiths can you brings these up before the meeting. You are trying to debate a sudden change to a motion which is completely outside our normal processes,” she said.

The successful motion was:

  • The Independent Pricing and Remuneration Tribunal (IPART) have determined that Port Macquarie-Hastings Council may increase its general income in 2017- 18 by 5.39%, including the rate peg of 1.5%.
  • The special variation can be permanently retained in Council's general income base.
  • This special variation is effectively a continuation of the current general income base as it replaces the funding provided by the existing special variation which will expire on 30 June 2017.
  • The net impact on rates in 2017-18 is an increase of 1.5%. 
  • The mandatory purpose of the special variation is for the maintenance and renewal of Council's road network.