What are Special Variations

A council can apply to IPART for a Special Variation to the rate peg which will be considered against the guidelines set by the NSW Office of Local Government. including the level of community awareness and how efficiently the council has been managing its finances. Council requests for Special Variations are often in order to develop or maintain essential community services or regional projects. IPART can grant a general income variation for a single year or up to seven years. Over that time the council can set its own rates and fees as long as its total general income from those sources stays within the agreed increase.

How special variation applications are assessed

IPART requires councils to actively engage residents in discussions about the proposed increase above the rate peg. Councils can do this with public hearings and other community engagement tools that suit their population. IPART will consider how effective each council’s community inclusion has been before determining its application to increase charges above the set rate. Councils need to show IPART there is:

  • community awareness of their plans
  • a demonstrated need for higher increases to charges
  • a reasonable impact on ratepayers
  • a sustainable financing strategy
  • a history of well-documented council productivity improvements

In addition to council’s evidence, we will assess any other information we consider relevant, including letters from ratepayers. IPART can wholly or partially approve or reject a council’s application. Our reasons will be published on our website and are available here.