Rate cap falls short for council

THE Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s (IPART) decision to cap rate rises at 2.3 per cent may force Orange City Council to make some tough decisions, according to the general manager and director of corporate and commercial services. 

The rate peg sets the maximum increase at 2.3 per cent, slightly below inflation, to apply to general income collected by NSW councils.

Last year the rate rise cap was set at 3.4 per cent and helped contribute to Orange City Council’s $31 million rates income. 

Council general manager Garry Styles said in the past council had gone with the level set by IPART in order to meet the growing expectations of residents for services and infrastructure.

He said council had managed long-term budgets on the assumption of a 3 per cent rate rise. 

“A 2.3 per cent increase is below the CPI,” Mr Styles said. 

“IPART argues that some public wage levels may be static, but because of local government award negotiations that are now underway, wage increases are expected to be above 2.3 per cent in the period when this IPART decision takes effect.”

Orange has a reputation for having some of the highest rates in regional NSW. 

Council’s director of corporate and commercial services Kathy Woolley said it was too early to say how the lower rate rise would impact council’s long-term plan, but there would need to be a review. 

She said the 2.3 per cent cap set by IPART was estimated to increase the residential general rate in Orange by $28.87 per year, or 56 cents a week.

The state average is an additional $20 for the year, or slightly less than 40 cents per week, per household. 

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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