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Council seeks views on Special Rate Variation

Armidale Regional Council has commenced community consultation on three options for a Special Rate Variation (SRV) for consideration by the community from Monday 2 November until Thursday 10 December 2020.

Interim Administrator Viv May endorsed the recommendation at the Council Meeting held last Wednesday 28 October to commence consultation and formally advise the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) before November 27, 2020 of Council’s intention to submit an SRV application.

Three SRV options presented to the community include:

Option 1 - A permanent SRV of 18.5% plus 2.0% rate peg (total 20.5%) commencing in 2021-22

Option 2- A permanent SRV of 8.5% plus 2.0% rate peg (total 10.5%) commencing in 2021-22

Option 3 - Discontinuation of the temporary SRV of 10% (above the rate peg) applied by the former Armidale Dumaresq Council and ending on 30 June 2021

To maintain current levels of service Council must apply this year to IPART to have the existing temporary SRV made permanent (Option 2). Council will also consult with the community on a higher SRV amount (Option 1) to allow for further investment in maintaining our infrastructure, in particular the renewal of our roads, bridges and community facilities.

Acting General Manager John Rayner said Councils across NSW were struggling to continue to provide the broad range of services without increased revenue.

“In NSW a rate peg is set annually each year by IPART that limits the amount a Council can increase rates. Unfortunately this has not kept pace with the increase in costs of maintaining our assets and providing essential services,” said Mr Rayner

“It has been a difficult few years for the Armidale region and Council revenue has been significantly impacted by drought and now COVID-19. Our priority is to get back to basics in delivering services to the community and ensure we have enough revenue to do that.”

From Monday 2 November, Council will be engaging with the community on three SRV options for consideration in our final proposal to IPART and provide further clarity on the mandatory process for harmonisation of rates.

All ratepayers will receive in the mail information on the proposed options for an SRV, rates harmonisation and links to Council’s yoursay.armidale.nsw.gov.au online engagement hub which provides further information for review and a schedule of engagement opportunities. For residents that are not online information displays will be available in the Armidale and Guyra Civic Administration Buildings and in the libraries. An SRV hotline on 1300 364 366 has also been established to assist you with any enquiry you may have during the consultation period or you can contact Council’s Customer Service team on 1300 136 833.

Formal submissions to Council will are now open and close on Thursday 10 December. Address submissions as ‘Submission SRV and Rates Harmonisation’ via email to council@armidale.nsw.gov.au; by post to Armidale Regional Council PO Box 75A, Armidale 2350 or submission can be dropped-off to the Armidale Civic Administration 135 Rusden Street, Armidale or the Guyra Civic Administration Building at 158 Bradley Street.

Council will inform the community of the harmonisation of rates which is a requirement mandated by the NSW Government for merged Councils.  Since the merger Council has been required to maintain two rating systems. This was due to a four year rate freeze imposed by the NSW Government. This meant that Council could not adjust rates beyond the rate peg in the first four years after amalgamation. Under current legislation Council must maintain one consistent rating structure to ensure a fairer and more equitable system across all rating categories within the Armidale Regional Local Government Area. This will take effect from July 1 2021 and will only affect general rates.

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