NSW Govt rejects applications for rate variations

By Staff Writer

The New South Wales Government’s decision to reject council applications for rate variations will lead to job cuts and decline in community infrastructure and services, say the Local Government and Shires Associations.

Local Government Association president, Genia McCaffery, said without the extra revenue, councils would be unable to fund major community projects.

“It’s extremely disappointing to see Minister Perry has rejected ten applications, compared with only two last year,” Cr McCaffery said.

“This is forcing councils – often a major employer in a community – into an even more difficult position.

“Some have already implemented staff freezes to address current financial difficulties, but I’m afraid that many are now talking about cutting jobs and the services and facilities that they support.”

Cr McCaffery said councils in NSW were at “financial breaking point”.

"Not only now are we forced to bear the burden of rate pegging, but the option of seeking a further increase by presenting a strong business case now seems to be less of a reality.”

Shires Association president, Bruce Miller, said the State Government had taken a “backward step” on maintaining jobs.
“The State Government has recently put a lot of emphasis on boosting employment opportunities and maintaining jobs,” he said.

“Granting the rate rises would have boosted employment, as the types of projects they would have funded would have created more vital jobs for our communities.”

The Associations repeated their call for an end to the rate pegging system.

“The Minister’s decision has certainly reiterated the need to bring NSW into line with other Australian states and stop forcing us further and further behind,” Cr Miller said.

“Premier Rees indicated last year he would investigate removing rate pegging altogether, so we urge him to get the ball rolling.

“Removing this unnecessary financial constraint would let councils get on with what they do best – providing essential services and facilities for their local communities.”

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