Corowa rate slug up 19% in 4 years

THE Corowa Council will generate more than $2 million extra over the next four years after successfully applying for a special rate variation.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal yesterday approved Corowa’s bid to lift its general income more than the rate peg amount of 2.3 per cent.

The council had said it needed the extra income to maintain services and address its infrastructure backlog, including the town’s public swimming pool.

Corowa applied for four successive increases of 7 per cent — including the annual rate peg.

The first will begin on July 1.

Average rural and urban residential rates will rise $11 to $72 in 2014-15 with non-urban and urban business rates jumping $23 to $203. Farmland rates will increase $145 in the first year.

The council must spend the extra money for purposes outlined in its application with progress reports included in its annual report.

IPART chairman Peter Boxall said special variations were designed to give councils the flexibility to generate income above the rate peg to meet specific needs.

“After careful consideration, IPART has decided to approve the special variation in full, allowing Corowa Council to increase its general income from rates by 19.3 per cent above the rate peg over the next four years,” he said.

“Corowa Council was able to meet the criteria for approval of the special variation by demonstrating a clear need for the additional revenue, that they had appropriately engaged the community about the proposed rate increases, and that they are taking steps to improve productivity and contain costs.

“In making this assessment, we also considered the council’s long term financial plan and whether the impact of the variation on affected ratepayers is reasonable.

“Although these increases are significant, we have determined that they are reasonable under the criteria given that current rates are well below those in similar council areas.”

Albury successfully applied for a special rate for the three previous financial years and Greater Hume Council is preparing for a special rate for three years from July 1 next year.

Greater Hume will apply for an average $50 rise on top of the rate peg with $317,250 generated each year spent on road works.

Corowa was one of the 28 NSW councils to have applications approved in full.