Future rates under scrutiny

Have a say: Consultation continues about future rate levels.PORT Macquarie-Hastings Council has signalled its intentionto apply for a special rate variation.
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The council will lodge an expression of interest for a special rate variation with the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.

That is ahead of a council decision on future ratelevels.

The expression of interest, to be lodged in December, will be aboutembedding the existing special rate variation into the future.

It is an IPART requirement to lodge an expression of interestbut that does not bind the council toa special rate variation application.

Councillors will consider areport in February detailing community engagement and the public submissions in response to the amendeddelivery program and amended long-term financial plan.

Community members can view the amended documentsfrom November 21 to December 18.

Cr Sharon Griffiths proposed the council not look at an embedded special rate variationinto the future but rather for five years.

She said some of the improvements the council had put in place had not been taken into account at this point in time.

Her amendment lapsed for want of a seconder.

Cr Lisa Intemann pointed to the good work being done as a result of the special rate variation.

She said let’s anchor the extra work down.

“We are in a very good position right nowbut we know we are coming up to a bit more of a difficult financial time in the next couple of years,” she said, given the council’s planned projects.

Cr Geoff Hawkins said the special rate variation was extremely relevant.

“We are dealing with the real world and I think it’s a very well balanced argument, well presented and I am very, very happy to support it,” he said.

A five-year special rate variation has yielded$1.7 million a yearto maintain and improve the road network.

That 4.43 per cent special rate variation ends onJune 30, 2017.

The council is seeking community input as consultation continues ahead of a rates decision.

Two scenarios are up for discussion.

Under one scenario, there would be no rate riseabove the estimated 2.5 per centrate peg level.

Option two involvesa new permanent special rate variation of 3.96 per cent, to maintain the current level of rates andfunding for roads,plus the estimated 2.5 per cent rate peg amount.

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