Monday, June 17, 2024

Hornsby to consult on proposed 31.05% special rate variation

Hornsby Shire Council has approved a recommendation to begin an extensive program of community engagement around applying to the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for a 31.05% Special Rate Variation (SRV) over four years.

“The people of Hornsby Shire have been clear and consistent in expressing their vision for our beautiful Shire. We know they want to secure a positive future for our coming generations that is liveable, sustainable, productive and collaborative,” said Hornsby Shire Council General Manager, Steven Head.

“To do this, it is essential that we have sound financial foundations and as responsible stewards, we must continue to spend only within our means.

“We have recently reviewed our Long Term Financial Plan, which identified that we need to take a number of actions to secure long term financial stability, maintain our assets and fund the high priority initiatives that the community has told us are important. Among the high priority actions we have identified is a need to consider applying to IPART for a Special Rate Variation.

“We are consulting the community about this potential rise in rates which would allow us to maintain the high levels of service that the community has come to expect and resource projects to address what people have told us are their long-term priorities,” he said.

Mr Head said the decision to consult with the community about the SRV had been taken following careful consideration and financial modelling.

“The additional rates would be in parallel with a range of other actions we have already undertaken, and will continue to take, to ensure that our proud record of financial sustainability continues into the coming decades,” he said.

The last time Hornsby Shire Council applied for a Special Rate Variation was more than 10 years ago.

“We are proud to have provided excellent services and infrastructure for the community for the past decade without the need to apply for a further SRV. However, like many other organisations, a range of internal and external factors have emerged, putting us under financial pressure and making it necessary to secure our future through an SRV,” Mr Head said.

“In addition to maintaining financial stability and ensuring ongoing funding for the maintenance of current assets and services, a Special Rate Variation will allow us to deliver what the community has said is important to them in order to maintain their quality of life.”

“Our forecasted calculations show that even with IPART’s annual Rate Peg increase, it will not be sufficient to achieve our collective objectives. While we understand that everyone is under pressure with rising costs, we too are navigating these same issues and we have a duty of care to manage Council’s budget responsibly.”

If approved, rates would rise by 8.5% in 2023/24, 7.5% in 2024/25, 6.5% in 2025/26 and 5.5% in 2026/27, which represents an increase of 31.05% (cumulative) staged over four years, including the annual rate peg set by IPART.

“For residents currently paying our average rate, this would mean an increase of $2.07 a week in the first year. For business ratepayers, the weekly increase on the average rate would be $3.97 in the first year,” Mr Head said.

He said residents in the Hornsby Shire local government area traditionally pay lower rates than the average rates of other councils in the Northern Sydney region and less than councils in the same category.

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