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Rates set to rise in Jerilderie Shire

Resident could be paying 20 per cent extra in rates by 2016/17 if Jerilderie Shire Council's special application is approved.

May 14, 2014 4:00am

Jerilderie Shire Council is applying for a special rates increase which could see residents paying 20 per cent extra in general rates by 2016/17.

In its draft delivery plan (2014-18), Jerilderie Shire said it would request a 10 per cent increase in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years.

The increase must be approved by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal and will also be put to a series of community meetings.

Jerilderie Shire general manager Craig Moffitt said the increase request was about ‘‘catching up’’ after 25 years of low or no rate increases being adopted.

Mr Moffitt said council would also look at cutting staff and operational costs in a number of ways to supplement the proposed increase.

All proposals are currently on public exhibition and will form the basis of a community meeting in Jerilderie next Wednesday.

It will be the first of several meeting to be held within the next nine months.

Jerilderie Shire Council believes the proposed 10 per cent increases over two years is ‘‘modest’’, saying it will only be added to the general rates.

‘‘The general residential rate is $1400 a year, and the general rate is only $250 of that,’’ Mr Moffitt said.

‘‘It means the increase, if we are approved for a 10 per cent increase, is only $25 a year.

‘‘Admittedly, the real effect will be on rural properties who don’t have the additional rates and already get a significant bill.

‘‘This proposed increase is about playing catch-up.

‘‘It was 25 years ago the council chose to administer no increase to rates, or an increase smaller than the maximum allowable rate peg.

‘‘Now, 25 years later, it means we are behind the eight-ball.

‘‘With the diminishing income to councils, we consider this a modest rise to be able to maintain services.’’

Mr Moffitt said rates only produce 24 per cent of council’s income, and said the increasing competitiveness for government funds places local services and programs at risk.

‘‘Seeing into the future, we don’t wish to get further behind,’’ he said.

‘‘This is about maintaining a standard, and if the community wants us to maintain that they need to support this proposed 10 per cent increase.

‘‘If there is community support, IPART may look more favourably at our request. If not, services may be jeopardised.’’

Mr Moffitt said council also proposed a five per cent increase to water usage charges and three per cent increase in other fees and charges to come into effect at the same time.

Rates and charges for the 2014/15 financial year will only be increased by up to 2.3 per cent, which is the state imposed rate cap.

Cost cutting will run in tandem with the proposed rate increases to help build council’s income.

Mr Moffitt said lifeguards would no longer be provided to the swimming pool, as lifeguards are not a legal requirement for the facility.

Library opening hours will be untouched, but librarian staff hours will be altered. He said only one of the two qualified librarians will be rostered on at any one time.

Council will relinquish trusteeship of both The Willows and the Jerilderie Court House, which Mr Moffitt said are rarely used and cost council a significant amount in ‘‘standing fees’’.

Council is also considering the long term options for the RSL Hall, in the meantime slashing the maintenance budget of the seldom-used building.

Mr Moffitt said the planned introduction of a waste depot user charge was also being proposed to offset the costs of manning the facility.

A community meeting on these and other proposals will be held in council’s Ian Gilbert Room from 7pm on Wednesday, May 21. All residents and ratepayers are urged to attend.

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