Tweed Shire Council is hoping to increase its rates above the rate peg.
Tweed Shire Council is hoping to increase its rates above the rate peg.

Council’s plan to increase rates above the normal ‘peg’

TWEED Shire council is intending to increase its rates above the normal rate peg in 2021-22 for new Kings Forest estate.

The council has notified the independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) of their intention to apply for a special variation to increase their income from rates above the rate peg in 2021-22.

A council spokesman confirmed the decision to apply for the SRV was solely relating to Kings Forest, and not the entire shire.

"Council has notified IPART of its intention to apply for a Special Rate Variation by the required November 27 November deadline," the spokesman said.

"Council will consider a report at the December 10 council meeting in relation to the community consultation/ public exhibition process, with a formal resolution to apply for a special rate levy to be determined in February 2021.

"The proposed Special Rate Levy is only applicable to properties in the Kings Forest development near Kingscliff to contribute to the ongoing management of environmental protection lands associated with the development."

Tribunal member Deborah Cope said IPART will "mindful of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, bushfires and drought on both ratepayers and councils" when assessing the council's application.

"Special variations allow councils to increase their general income by more than the rate peg to fund infrastructure and additional services, or to improve their financial sustainability," Ms Cope said.

"Under the rate peg, all NSW councils are eligible to increase their general income from rates by up to 2.0 per cent in 2021-22.

"Councils seeking a larger increase must consult with their communities and request IPART's approval for a special variation.

"As part of their community consultation, councils should explain how they are reducing their costs so the increase is the minimum necessary."

The council is one of eight councils across NSW to apply for the special rate variation, including Armidale Regional Council, Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council, Federation Council, Liverpool Plains Shire Council, Canterbury Bankstown Council, Central Coast Council and Georges River Council.

IPART will begin assessing the applications against criteria set out in the Office of Local Government's guidelines from February 2021.

"The criteria include demonstrating the need for any additional income, evidence of adequate community consultation and an assessment of the reasonableness of the increase," Ms Cope said.

Ratepayers and other stakeholders can have their say by contacting their council or lodging a submission to IPART.

Full details about the 2021-22 special variation and minimum rate increase process, including how to make a submission to IPART, can be found on IPART's website.