Maintenance work in pipeline means hefty rate rise looms for Bathurst residents

BATHURST residents are being warned that a massive asset maintenance backlog at Bathurst Regional Council of more than $62 million may mean a hefty rate increase in years to come.

While council is forecasting a rate hike of 2.3 per cent for the next financial year, in line with the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s cap on resident rate rises, that could well change in 2015-16.

The ominous prediction comes as council tables its Bathurst Delivery Plan 2014-18 and Annual Operating Plan 2014-15 (including revenue policy 2014-15).

Part of that vital planning document contains comments by city treasurer Bob Roach that state: “The magnitude of the backlog is of concern to council, which may look to an increase in the rate peg in future years.

“A special rate variation needs to be considered in the detailed budget to occur in the 2015-16 year. Any such decision will be subject to future discussions with the community regarding service levels and a review of council’s operations over the next 12 months.”

The big ticket items in the asset maintenance backlog include more than $10 million for urban roads, $11.8 million for rural roads, $4.1 million for bridges and culverts, $1.5 million for Bathurst Aerodrome, $16.5 million for water and $17.6 million for sewer.

While council is concerned of the backlog, it is planning to spend millions in the coming financial year for major capital works initiatives.

The main items include $1 million at the water treatment works for the manganese removal project and another $1 million for water mains to allow for village expansion at Eglington.

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