Friday, June 21, 2024

Blacktown to consult on rate variation

Blacktown City Council has announced it will embark on an extensive program of community consultation before deciding on any application to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for a Special variation of property rates.

IPART has set the percentage increase for 2023/24 at 3.7% – well below the current inflation rate of 6.1%, and expected to rise over the coming months, Council said in a statement today.

“Blacktown City’s rapid growth and development, cost increases, a reduction in revenue, aging infrastructure and Government actions have all combined to put enormous pressure on Council’s finances,” said Blacktown City Mayor, Tony Bleasdale OAM.

He said Council was considering applying to IPART for a Special Rate Variation in the 2023/24 and 2024/25 years to provide a permanent additional $25 million in general revenue to ensure Council’s financial sustainability.

“Unlike some councils, we have not applied for a Special Rate Variation in nearly 10 years but without an increase in revenue Council would be forced to reduce services, increase fees and charges, cut back on vital maintenance and building programs, and cut jobs.” Mayor Bleasdale said.

“Council will undertake a month of extensive consultation consisting of a community survey, public information sessions, mail outs, information stands at libraries, Council offices and events, as well as providing information on Council’s website and social media.”

In broad terms, Council is considering applying for a 15% Special Rate Variation in year one, including the rate peg.  

For 70% of rate payers, this would be an increase of $151 per year or $2.90 a week more for the first year, the Mayor said.

Council is considering a 5% variation (the assumed rate peg only) in 2024/25 with an additional 10% for some businesses.

“If Council goes ahead with the application, there will be a special provision to increase the pensioner rate rebate from $450 to $550 a year. Council also offers a number of plans to assist ratepayers who are experiencing difficulty of paying rates on time,” said Mayor Bleasdale.

“Property rates are a legitimate tax-deductible expense for many businesses.

“Council won’t make its final decision on any possible Special Rate Variation application until it gives full consideration to all the feedback and submissions we receive from our community.

“I can assure residents that Council will continue to maintain our existing budget discipline and further identify savings and efficiencies,” he said.

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