Council Determined to fix its Roads

Bellingen Council’s February application to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for a special rate variation has been determined with Council being approved for a 6% increase to its general fund from 2017-18.

Council’s priority reseal program will be boosted by an additional $310,000 being put towards the program in the 2017-18 financial year, generating $3.5M over the next 10 years.

Mayor, Cr Dominic King said, “This announcement means that Council can focus on fixing those roads that urgently need it”.

“This will also allow a greater focus on the strategic management of Council assets while putting steps in place to ensure that infrastructure renewal investment is appropriate,” the Mayor said.

IPART made its determination based on a specific criteria set down by the Office of Local Government (OLG). In undertaking its assessment, IPART considered Council’s need for the increase, its consideration of the community’s priorities and capacity and willingness to pay, the impact of the rate increase on ratepayers and that the community had been informed.

IPART also took into account Council’s original submission to IPART in 2015 and resubmission to the OLG in 2016 as part of the Fit for the Future process - both submissions highlighting the need for special rate variations as well as the need for major investment in local infrastructure.

IPART made a number of comparisons with other similar sized councils (Group 11) along with neighbouring councils and independently determined that “The impact on ratepayers is modest given the council’s existing rate levels, its history of special variations, the purpose of the special variation, indicators of the community’s capacity to pay and the socio-economic position of ratepayers”.

IPART, in its determination, provides 2014-15 comparative data such as the number of Council staff, employee costs and contractor costs. The following IPART comparisons are of importance in terms of the operations of Council:

Comparative Indicator

Bellingen Shire Council

OLG Group 11 Councils

NSW Average

FTE staff number

135

152

295

Employee cost as a percentage of operating expenditure (General Fund only)

29.0

36.2

38.6

Consultancy/contractor expenses as % of operating expenditure (%)

0.2

6.4

10.9

 

IPART also considered Council’s SEIFA Index, comparative business rates, the percentage of outstanding rates and annual charges, the Shire’s employment and income.

Bellingen Council is pleased to receive IPART’s determination. This decision enables the rollout of the priority urban and rural roads reseal program with an overall focus on investment in local infrastructure.