NSW councils have been given the green light to boost revenue gained from rates, while Tenterfield’s rate-paying base appears to be shrinking.
Councils will be able to increase rate revenue by 2.3 per cent in 2018 after the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) handed down its rate peg on Tuesday.
It was one of the juiciest rate pegs handed down in recent years with previous years’ revenue limits maxing-out at 1.5 and 1.8 per cent.
While it could provide a hefty boost to council’s rate coffers, Tenterfield mayor Peter Petty says he wasn’t a fan of pegging and it was something local government should be able to manage.
Tenterfield Shire Council collected $3.396 million of revenue from residential, farmland and business rates in 2015/16 according to figures from the NSW Office of Local Government (OLG).
The average residential rate for Tenterfield homes was $465.14 in 2016.
A buffer added to the rate collection will probably go towards “roads and maintenance”, the mayor said.
Cr Petty said there was always an expectation on councils doing more for less.
It appears council might need to stretch its dollars a bit further with less ratepayers in the community, with the OLG’s numbers showing the shire’s population has been declining over the last five years.
The shire’s population has dipped 0.5 per cent since 2011, which is a trend echoed across the region with Glen Innes (-2.8), Gwydir (-5.7) and Walcha (-6.8) shire populations dwindling, but Cr Petty sees it differently.
“Tenterfield itself stays the same, but the villages have grown,” he said.
“It’s got to have, you should see the amount of buildings that have gone up.”
IPART chair Peter Boxall said next year’s rate peg is higher than the previous two years (1.8 per cent in 2016/17 and 1.5 per cent in 2017/18), primarily due to increases in labour costs, electricity and street lighting charges, and higher construction costs for roads, drains, footpaths, kerbing and bridges.
“Since the rate peg applies to general income in total, and not to individual rate assessments, it is up to each council to determine whether to apply the allowed increase in full and how to allocate the increase between households, businesses and other ratepayer categories,” Dr Boxall said. Councils wishing to apply for a special rate variation must notify IPART by December 15.