15 May 2024

Big Goulburn rate hike partially approved by tribunal

| Claire Sams
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A hand takes several notes of Australian currency from a wallet

Goulburn-Mulwaree residents will see their rates increase by 22.5 per cent after the decision. Photo: Damien Larkins.

Goulburn-Mulwaree Council has had part of its planned rate hike approved by a state tribunal.

Under a partially endorsed Special Rate Variation (SRV), Goulburn-Mulwaree Council can go ahead with a 22.5 per cent rate increase in 2024-25.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) sets a maximum amount each year (a rate peg) that determines how much councils can increase rates by. If they want to go beyond this limit, councils need to apply for an SRV and have their claim assessed.

Council had proposed a 51.2 per cent increase, spread over three years.

However IPART did not approve the 16 per cent and 6.4 per cent planned increases for 2025-26 and 2026-27, respectively.

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Mayor Peter Walker said the outcome was disappointing.

“Council is thankful to IPART for considering our application, however we are extremely disappointed at the outcome,” he said.

“This reduction in revenue will have significant impacts on our capital and service delivery to the community.

“Council acknowledges the challenges ahead and is committed to finding alternative solutions to maintain the quality of services provided to meet our Legislative requirements.

“Council will now also prepare a revised four-year budget, to save additional costs to cover the short fall of the partially approved SRV application.”

The planned increase had created a public backlash, with residents wondering how they could afford the increase.

In the more than 100 submissions made public by IPART, many residents questioned the need for an SRV. Various submissions said residents would be unable to afford the increase, with the proposed 51.2 per cent increase described as “extortionate” in one submission.

According to IPART, the new minimum business rates would also be $722 in 2024-25, after council was approved for a $132 increase.

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IPART Chair Carmel Donnelly said the tribunal assessed each council’s case for an SRV against Office of Local Government criteria.

“The councils with approved increases are encouraged to consult with the community to decide how best to implement the allowed increase,” she said.

“It’s important to note that elected councillors can choose when they implement the approved increase in rates income, including deferring any increases for up to 10 years and also how they set rates across the rating categories.”

Goulburn-Mulwaree Council was one of nine councils to apply for a SRV.

In the NSW south-west, Griffith City Council had also sought a 34.9 per cent increase over three years but received a 22.1 per cent over two years, while Snowy Valleys Council’s request for a 42.38 per cent increase over three years was denied.

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