NSW councils to boost rates revenue

NSW councils have been given the green light to boost rates revenue, with the state’s Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) setting the 2018-19 rates peg at 2.3 per cent.

The 2018-19 rate peg is the highest in three years, with IPART having set the 2016-17 rate peg at 1.8 per cent and the 2017-18 rate peg at 1.5 per cent.

IPART determines the rate peg by measuring changes in the Local Government Cost Index (LGCI), which includes changes in the average costs faced by councils, and consideration of a factor to reflect improvements in productivity.

Tribunal chairman Peter Boxall said this was primarily due to increases in labour costs, electricity and street lighting charges, and higher construction costs for roads, drains, footpaths, kerbing and bridges.

“Since the rate peg applies to general income in total, and not to individual rate assessments, it is up to each council to determine whether to apply the allowed increase in full and how to allocate the increase between households, businesses and other ratepayer categories,” Dr Boxall said.

Councils can apply for a special variation if they want to increase their revenues by more than the rate peg. Those wishing to do so must notify IPART by December 15.

A fact sheet on the rate peg is available on IPART’s website.

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