Unease over two per cent rate limit

Snowy Valleys Mayor James Hayes and Deputy John Larter have expressed some unease about the pegging of rates at 2 per cent for the 2021-22 financial year.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) announced that councils would be able to increase the revenue they can collect from rates by a maximum of 2 per cent in the aforementioned year, with a 0.2 per cent adjustment for election costs.  

The 2021-22 rate peg is lower than in previous years.

Cr Hayes believes whether or not the rate pegging will work will depend on other costs.

“It will depend on whether or not other costs go up,” he said.

“If they go up less, fine, but if they go up more than 2 per cent then it will be a matter of finding the money from somewhere else. If wages go up two-and-a-half per cent, what do we do?”

However, he does have some confidence in council to find a solution should such a situation arise.

“Hopefully we will find some savings,” he said.

“We found a few with our organisational restructure. Maybe we can look at other efficiencies somewhere down the track.” 

Deputy Mayor John Larter believes that a bigger picture needs to be looked at.

“At the end of the day, there needs to be a re-evaluation of how local government is essentially funded,” he said.

“There is now a lot more expectation on local government to deliver services outside the usual rates, rubbish and roads; it has become a whole heap more than that.

“Essentially we try to deliver services with very large costs, and it is difficult with free pools and free library, and these things have got to be paid for somewhere. We’re being asked to tip in for roads and infrastructure.”

Cr Larter believes council will be asked to tip in for projects at Tumut Airport and for sealing the Brindabella Road.   

“Everyone wants the latest recycling, and they don’t want potholes. We get multiple requests a week for things like lifestyle programs, arts events and kids fitness programs.”

Cr Larter has a good idea of what he thinks local government needs.

“There just needs to be a constant funding source from the state government, and not coming up with strategic plans that sound good on paper but just collect dust.”