The Proposed Special Rate Variation – Has Council considered the community’s capacity to pay?

Council is aware that many in the community may be concerned about the proposed Special Rate Variation (SRV) and their ability to afford this increase in their cost of living.  So, how has Council considered the community’s capacity and willingness to pay?

Council recognises that rate payers may at times experience difficulty paying rates and annual charges, irrespective of their income. Council has a financial hardship policy in place to provide assistance and support to community members who are experiencing financial stress and are unable to pay their rates and charges on time.

In considering the community’s capacity to pay a Special Rate Variation, Council has thoroughly researched its community’s level of socio-economic disadvantage, its rating structure compared with neighbouring Councils, ratepayer income levels and changes in land values.

Council has recognised its relative socio-economic disadvantage by limiting the proposal to retain the current 4.77% SRV plus an additional Special Rate Variation of 4.23% increase (plus rate peg) thereby seeking only a one-off, single year increase of 9% which does not expire.  In 2019/20, the total SRV increase will be 11.7% (inclusive of the 2.7% rate peg).

The Council has a Hardship Policy to accommodate the needs of those unable to pay their rates in full on time. The Council is committed to working with ratepayers to agree on affordable payment plans.

A web-based rates calculator tool has been developed and is available on www.haveyoursay.lithgow.com for ratepayers to compare their rates under the “no SRV” and “SRV” scenarios, based on their land valuation. The table below summarises the impact of the scenarios on average rates.  If you don’t have access to the internet, please contact the Council Administration Centre or call into one of the Libraries and our friendly staff will be happy to help you.

The impact of the proposed Special Rate Variation is on average only $1 per week for residential ratepayers. 

 

Impact on average rate

Average Rate

2018/19 $

Average Rate 2019/20

$

Variance $ per annum Variance $

per week

Residential Rates  
Scenario 1 763.00 747.00 -16.00  
Scenario 2 763.00 815.00 52.00 1.00
Business Rates  
Scenario 1 3,950.00 3,868.00 -82.00  
Scenario 2 3,950.00 4,225.00 275.00 5.29
Farmland Rates  
Scenario 1 1,439.00 1,410.00 -29.00  
Scenario 2 1,439.00 1,539.00 100.00 1.92
Mining Rates  
Scenario 1 160,461.00 157,139.00 -3,322.00  
Scenario 2 160,461.00 171,581.00 11,120 213.85

 

An alternative to a Special Rate Variation application is to reduce services to deliver a balanced operating result, consistent with ‘Fit for the Future’ requirements.  Council currently spends approximately $19 million on asset maintenance and renewal each year, however; we need to be investing an additional $1.1 million per year to avoid deterioration of assets such as roads, building and stormwater drainage. 

In May, Micromex Research were engaged to undertake a large scale community research project including a community survey and a report on findings. In summary, findings from the survey demonstrated that there are high levels of support for Council to increase investment in order to achieve better outcomes in regards to the quality of assets.

Results from the survey demonstrate that half of residents accept that they need to pay more, either indirectly via rates or directly via service fees and charges, in order for Council to have the required funding to increase investment in community assets.

The responses show that 52% of residents already accept that they need to pay more, directly (via rates 31%) or indirectly (via service charges and fees 38%) to allow council to improve the quality of community assets.

Council has engaged Micromex Consulting to undertake a second random telephone survey of residents within the Lithgow local government area during December to ascertain their level of understanding and support for the proposed Special Rate Variation. 

Information on the proposed special rate variation is available on www.haveyoursay.lithgow.com. Alternatively you can contact Council on 6354 9999 or call into the Council Administration Centre or Lithgow, Wallerawang and Portland Libraries where one of our friendly staff will be happy to assist you.

Written submissions quoting reference no. SRV19-20 will be accepted by Council until midnight on 11 January 2019. However, Council does encourage members of the community to visit the Have Your Say website or speak to a Council Officer first to ensure they are making an informed decision.

 

Contact:    Deborah McGrath
Corporate Strategy & Communications Officer
Tel: 02 6354 9999
Fax: 02 6351 4259

 

Contact:   
Councilor Ray Thompson
Mayor
Tel: 02 6354 9999
Fax: 02 6351 4259

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