Kyolge Council is about to enter in to its final year of an IPART special rate variation on July 1 and has promised not to rise the rates more than the rate pegging limit for the next 15 years.
Kyolge Council is about to enter in to its final year of an IPART special rate variation on July 1 and has promised not to rise the rates more than the rate pegging limit for the next 15 years. mapio.net

No more rate increases on the horizon

DESPITE an unexpected budget blow, Kyogle Council will not be increasing its rates above the rate pegging limits in the next 15 years.

An unanticipated hike the State's emergency services levy has thrown out council budgets across the state, sparking significant lobbying around the increase from NSW Joint Organisations, The Country Mayors Association, local councils and Local Government NSW. 

The hike meant Kyogle Council's levy fee went from $200,000 a year to $252,000 a year, heavily impacting the council's already "tight budget."

General Manger Graham Kennett said the increase meant any wiggle room council did have in the 2019/2020 budget was gone, but it "wouldn't mean a rise in rates".

"We will need to have the conversation with the community over the next couple of years but there are always other options other than rate increases," Mr Kennett said.

The final budget for 2019/2020 was adopted by councillors at Tuesday's Kyogle council meeting and while general rates shown in the Revenue Policy included the IPART approved special rate variation of 5.44 per cent for General Rates and 3.5 per cent for the Stormwater and Flood Special Rate, it will be the last year of the approved special rate variation.

Mr Kennett said the rate increase meant a jump in General Rates revenue from $6.7 m in 18/19 to $7.1 m in 2019/20.

"The rate increases are permanent and all subsequent years increases will be based on the rate pegging limit as determined by the IPART each year," he said.

"But we won't be reapplying for any Special Rate Variations through IPART next year, and at this stage there is no further above rate pegging increases in Council's long term financial plan (LTFP) over the next 15 years.

"We do have assumptions around what rate pegging will look like in the future, so we have to have that constant check year by year.

"We have a 20 long term financial plan- we are five years into it and there are no more above rate pegging increases in the next 15 years.

He said it was a good position to be in as a council.

"We changed our financial management policy and we developed the LTFP in 2014 in response to the reforms from the NSW government," he said.

"We'd already had a conversation with our community in the lead up to these reforms and they had agreed to go with that special rate variation to increase the rates on the proviso we spent it on roads, bridges and stormwater - the things that were lacking funding.

"Since Council adopted the LTFP, we have delivered $61 million in capital works, with a further $27 million included in the current budget. A further $61 million in capital works is expected to be delivered over the next four years, including a $25 million capital works program in 2019/20."

"When you look at the amount we've spent on capital works over the last four years since that LTFP came into effect, it by far exceeds the amount that was raised through our special rate variation."