No special rate hike despite pressures of bridge renewal

Rating levels for 2019/20 are yet to be determined, but any increase won't exceed 2.7 per cent.
Rating levels for 2019/20 are yet to be determined, but any increase won't exceed 2.7 per cent.

It will come as a relief to many that Tenterfield is not among 14 NSW councils seeking special rates variations for the coming financial year, meaning the councils are requesting rates increases above the 2.7 per cent allowed.

Special variations allow councils to increase their general income by more than the rate peg to fund items such as infrastructure or additional services, or to improve their financial sustainability.

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Despite Tenterfield’s current challenge of upgrading its ageing timber bridges and other infrastructure a rates hike above the peg is not on the cards, for the coming year at least.

Council’s chief executive Terry Dodds said 17 structural inspections have been completed with a further 35 currently being assessed, with the inspection process expected to be finalised by the end of March.

Once the assessment is completed that information will form part of a review of council’s Asset Management Plan to determine if adjustments are required to the current 10 Year Financial Plan.

Mr Dodds said that it’s hoped minor structural improvements, at least from a cost point of view, will buy council time and, in real terms, extend the life of most of these assets to spread the cost over many years.

“There are therefore far too many variables to make any decision as to funding streams at this stage,” he said.

“Council has been extremely proactive in seeking financial grants from the state and federal governments, and is sincerely thankful to our local members for understanding our plight.

“Council expects to be informed on whether the current grant applications have been a success shortly.”

Under the rate peg all NSW councils are eligible to increase general income from rates by up to 2.7 per cent in 2019/20. Mr Dodds said Tenterfield’s budget process won’t start until February and until it’s completed any talk of rating levels would be entirely speculative.

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