Six Sydney councils have been given the green light to increase rates while fees for mayors and councillors will increase from next month.
Applications for special variations by Burwood, Hunters Hill, Ku-ring-gai, Randwick and Sutherland councils were all fully approved by the NSW pricing regulator this month.
The decision by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) means the councils are able to increase income from rates above the 2.7 per cent peg from July 1. They have discretion in implementing the decision and in determining how to apply the increases.
Meanwhile, the Office of Local Government Remuneration Tribunal on Monday said it had determined an increase of 2.5 per cent to mayoral and councillor fees from July 1.
Thirteen of the state’s 128 councils, including the Sydney councils, applied to IPART for a special rate variation. All except two – Port Stephens and Tamworth – were fully or partly approved.
An application by North Sydney to increase rates by 40 per cent was knocked back but council was given approval to increase rates by 22.5 per cent over three years.
Special variations gave councils flexibility to generate additional income above the rate peg to meet specific needs, IPART Chair Dr Paul Paterson said.
“In making these assessments, we have considered whether there is a genuine financial need for additional revenue to allow a council to be financially sustainable, and fund infrastructure projects or asset renewal requirements of their regions,” Dr Paterson in a statement.
“We also look at efforts made by the various councils to reduce their costs and identify other sources of revenue, as well as the capacity and willingness of ratepayers to pay the requested increase.”
North Sydney had sought a 40.3 per cent increase over five years but was granted 22.5 over three years instead.
This was despite IPART receiving more than 70 submissions opposing council’s application, mainly because of its strong financial position, Dr Patterson said
“Nevertheless, we are satisfied the Council has partly demonstrated financial need for the additional revenue to improve its financial sustainability, maintain, renew and invest in its infrastructure, reduce its infrastructure backlog and maintain existing services.
Burwood, meanwhile, was approved for a 19.5 per cent increase over four years, generating $4.9 million to renew infrastructure and reduce an infrastructure backlog.
Hunters Hill won approval for a 9.74 per cent single year increase to fund work on buildings, parks, reserves and playgrounds and improve council’s financial sustainability.
Kuringai was granted an application to retain its 7.7 per cent environmental levy for sustainability and biodiversity; Randwick was granted a 5.9 per cent increase in 2019-20 and Sutherland Shire is able to increase rates by 8.76 per cent.
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