A special rate variation allows a council to increase its general income above the rate peg, under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW).

Special variations can be for one or several years, and can be temporary or permanently retained in the rates base.

Each year, councils wishing to apply for a special variation apply to IPART in February. The applications are assessed against criteria listed in the Office of Local Government’s Guidelines. These include undertaking long term financial planning, ensuring community awareness of the need and extent of the proposed increase in rates, and consideration of the impact on ratepayers and the community’s capacity and willingness to pay. In addition, councils must meet criteria related to productivity improvements.

Details of each council’s current special variations and any pending applications that have been notified to IPART are available at Find your council or you can find out more details about special variations.

The Office of Local Government has issued Guidelines for assessing special rate variation applications for 2021-22.