City council seeks 7.3% increase above rate peg

GREATER Taree City Council has applied to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to increase general income by 7.30 per cent above the rate peg from July 1, 2014.

If the request is approved by IPART, it would be maintained for five years and the increase would include the rate peg, which for 2014/15 has been set at 2.30 per cent. Council is one of 32 councils across NSW to apply for a special variation to increase rates.

IPART Chairman Dr Peter Boxall said the application would be assessed against guidelines published by the Office of Local Government, Department of Premier and Cabinet.

"The assessment criteria include demonstrating the need for and the purpose of the additional revenue, evidence of community engagement and awareness and an assessment of the impact on affected ratepayers," Dr Boxall said.

"Councils need to provide evidence that their communities are aware of the need for, and extent of, a rate rise.

"They need to show that they have listened to the input they have received, weighed up community concerns against alternatives to the increases sought, and that they have considered the impact on ratepayers."

Dr Boxall said that while the primary avenue for community consultation is via council's planning processes, interested groups and ratepayers are able to make submissions directly to IPART until March 24. Full details about the assessment criteria for Special Variations, details about each council's application and how to make submissions can be found on the IPART website under Local Government, Fact Sheets and Information Papers.