Rates will increase as Bega council accepts 'burden' of changes

The base rate paid on land is set to increase under changes to general rates supported by Bega Valley Shire Council.

At its meeting on Wednesday, July 17 councillors passed all eight motions regarding changes for rates and charges in the 2019-2010 financial year, most of them unanimously.

Before the general discussion began, Councillor Tony Allen said this was always a difficult time of the year for ratepayers, particularly as the region was in a dry period.

"So it's not ideal to put rates and charges up," he said.

He said it was a "burden" to increase rates, but described council's operations as "running a business" because it had the responsibility to ensure assets such as roads and public toilets were kept in a reasonable condition.

As a result of the changes there will be an annual $15 increase on the base rate paid on residential, farmland and business properties, to $506.

The ad valorem tax, which is based on the assessed value of the property, will also increase.

In the last financial year, this tax was 0.003957 cents in the dollar for residential and farmland properties, while it will go up to 0.0040763 cents this year.

But ad valorem rates will decrease for businesses, from 0.007631 cents in the dollar last financial year to 0.007213 cents.

Waste management costs will increase, with the mandatory charge going up $7 to $259 for residential and multi-unit dwellings as well as increasing $3 to $121 for rural properties.

Also, the water usage charge for 2018-2019 was $2.96 per kilolitre, but has now increased to $3.02kL.

During the meeting Cr Cathy Griff said council needed to prepare a communication plan to inform ratepayers of the reasons behind council's decision to accept the motions.

"I think there's little general understanding why we have to change the rates," she said.

In response to her comment, director of assets and operations and acting general manager Anthony McMahon said a communication plan would be prepared for the public.

Mayor Kristy McBain said each year the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) set a rate peg in NSW, which is the maximum increase councils were allowed to apply without undertaking a special rate variation.

"The peg is primarily based on the local government cost index, which is a reflection of what the cost increases for a council are (the IPART website also details how the index is calculated)," she said.

"If council did not increase rates by at least the rate peg we would not have the capacity to continue to do all the things we currently do and look after the infrastructure we currently have."

Information on how the rate peg is calculated can be found by clicking here.

To learn the full changes to rates, click here to read the agenda for council's meeting.

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This story Rates to increase as Bega council accepts 'burden' of changes first appeared on Bega District News.