On Wednesday, June 29 council will discuss its integrated planning and reporting documents (IPR) which not only include the budget for the coming year 2022/23, but also the more controversial special rate variation (SRV) of 35 per cent increase to the general rate in 2023/24.
The proposed SRV (called scenario 2 - maintain in the documents) covers a 35 per cent increase to general rates only, with a starting date of July 1, 2023. Water, sewer and waste charges would not be subject to the SRV, although would likely increase by an annual inflation figure.
During the exhibition period for the IPR documents, May 4 - June 1, 29 external submissions were received with the majority related to the proposed 35 per cent to general rates, outlined in the draft long-term financial plan (LTFP), council said.
Many people making submissions expressed concern over the increase and their own ability to afford it but council staff are recommending that the documents be adopted.
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It will be the first step towards applying for an SRV. Later in the year, around November, councillors will be asked to vote on informing IPART (Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal) of council's intention to lodge an application for an SRV. It will then vote early in 2023 to lodge the application.
Once an SRV application is lodged with IPART it will go on public exhibition and the community will have the opportunity to give comments to IPART before a decision is announced towards the end of the financial year in June 2023.
Council's director, business and governance, Iliada Bolton said in her report to council, the focus in developing the LTFP and annual budgets was to ensure long-term financial sustainability while ensuring the continued delivery of a broad range of services and capital works informed by council's underlying strategies.
Council's CEO Anthony McMahon said that without an SRV council was not able to remain financially sustainable. It is a perilous situation which if unchecked could ultimately result in council being insolvent.
"Rising costs exceed our capacity to generate income and meet the needs of our community with service provision and asset maintenance. Increasing our revenue source is required," Mr McMahon said. Council is predicting a loss of $9.45 million in its general fund for 2022/23.
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