IPART recognises that challenges posed by the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic may impact on councils’ abilities to fully meet some of the criteria set out in the Office of Local Government’s Guidelines for preparation of an application for a special variation to general income (Special Variations) and Guidelines for preparation of an application to increase minimum rates above the statutory limit (Minimum Rate Increase).
We recommend that councils intending to apply for a Special Variation or Minimum Rate Increase for 2021-22 submit an application addressing the criteria to the fullest extent possible.
The Office of Local Government’s Guidelines give IPART flexibility to take into account matters it considers relevant, and to consider the particular evidence required in relation to the circumstances of individual councils. Councils should provide evidence of relevant impacts of COVID-19 in Special Variation and Minimum Rate applications for 2021-22, including measures taken to effectively consult with ratepayers under social distancing requirements, and IPART will take these impacts into consideration in our assessment.
We recommend councils get in touch with IPART early to discuss their plans and potential issues they may face due to COVID-19, should they wish to apply for a Special Variation or Minimum Rate Increase in 2021-22. Please contact Sheridan Rapmund on 02 9290 8430 or Sheridan_Rapmund@ipart.nsw.gov.au.
Local councils seeking a special variation to general income above the rate peg amount, or to increase minimum rate levels above the statutory limit, are required to submit applications to IPART for review and assessment.
There are 2 special variation options under the Local Government Act:
Special variation and minimum rate increase applications should be submitted through IPART's Local Government Council Portal. This User Guide gives detailed instructions on how to use Council Portal.
The following Fact Sheets may assist councils in preparing their 2020-21 applications:
See past special variation and minimum rate increase applications and determinations.
While IPART has been delegated responsibility for assessing and determining special variations, the Government has retained responsibility for setting the policy framework under which applications will be assessed.
Councils applying for a special variation or minimum rate increase must comply with the requirements set out each year in the Office of Local Government's (OLG) Guidelines.
The Guidelines for 2020-21 financial year are now available on the OLG website (link below)
Councils intending to apply for a special rate variation or minimum rate increase should notify IPART of their intention to apply by 29 November 2019 via our Council Portal.
Notification Letters to IPART should include the following information:
We have produced three information videos to help councils understand how to apply for a special variation, and our assessment process:
Councils applying for a special variation in 2021-22 should use the 2021‑22 rate peg set by IPART – which will be released in September 2020 – in their applications, and an assumed rate peg of 2.5% for 2022‑23 and in future years, unless stated otherwise in the Office of Local Government’s Guidelines for the preparation of an application for a special variation to general income for 2021‑22. The Guidelines will be made available in October 2020.
We encourage councils that are updating or reviewing their Long Term Financial Plans to refer to the Office of Local Government’s Integrated Planning and Reporting Manual for local government in NSW, and to seek advice from the Office of Local Government where necessary to determine their revenue forecasts for rates and charges for future years.