Albury rates 'exempt' from cap

ALBURY ratepayers won’t benefit from a decision to limit NSW council rate rises to 3.4 per cent.

Their rates are going up 4.77 per cent, anyway.

While NSW councils will be able to collect more in rates and charges, the total they collect cannot exceed the 3.4 per cent rate-pegging limit set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal for next year.

This was slightly lower than the 3.6 per cent set for this year.

But an Albury Council spokesman said yesterday Albury was not included.

“The announcement does not affect Albury Council for 2013-14 because we already had approval for a 4.77 per cent rise for that year,” he said.

He said that was the final of three approved special rate variations — the other two were for 5.64 per cent in 2011-12 and 5.69 per cent in 2012-13.

Albury won approval for the variations to pay for several large-scale projects such as the Murray River Wagirra Trail, the entertainment centre upgrade and the Volt Lane and its AMP Lane redevelopments.

The tribunal’s latest determination means the average householder in NSW could pay up to $30 a year more in rates.

Tribunal chairman Peter Boxall said the ruling reflected the increased costs to the state’s 152 councils, in wages, construction and electricity.

“In setting the rate peg, we have sought to strike a balance between ensuring that councils can meet the increased costs of delivering services while sharing the benefits of improved productivity with ratepayers,” Dr Boxall said.

“The rate peg applies to a council’s income, not to an individual’s rates, but if a council decides to increase residential rates in line with the rate peg, it would mean an additional $30 for the year, or less than $1 a week, for the average household.”

Councils can still apply to the tribunal to increase their incomes above the 3.4 per cent cap.

The first tribunal decision to possibly affect Albury Council would be for the 2014-15 financial year.