Nine NSW councils have applied to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for a special variation to increase their income from rates above the rate peg.

IPART Chair Carmel Donnelly said the Tribunal is now seeking community feedback on applications from Blayney Shire, Goulburn Mulwaree, Griffith City, Kempsey Shire, Narrandera Shire, Randwick City, Snowy Valleys, Tamworth Regional and Willoughby City councils.

“Some councils have applied for large increases over one, two or three years”, Ms Donnelly said.

“The Tribunal will assess each application against the criteria established by the Office of Local Government, which require councils to demonstrate the need for the additional revenue, provide evidence of community consultation and detail the impact on affected ratepayers.

“Community feedback is an important part of the Tribunal’s assessment of special variation applications and we encourage affected ratepayers and community members to fill out the survey on the IPART website or lodge a submission in relation to any of the applications we’ve received.”

IPART sets a rate peg annually for every council in NSW which caps the amount by which councils can increase the revenue they collect from rates. For 2024-25, the core rate pegs range from 4.5% to 5.5% across NSW. Some councils are eligible for an additional population factor.

Councils seeking to increase their rates revenue by more than the rate peg must apply to IPART for a special variation. In general, the councils that have applied this year have indicated they are applying for a special variation to improve financial sustainability and to maintain their current service levels.

“IPART recently highlighted ongoing stakeholder concern with the financial sustainability of councils and with the affordability of rising rates, and the NSW Government has recently accepted our recommendation for an independent inquiry into the current financial model of councils”, Ms Donnelly said.

“IPART is also currently seeking feedback on a draft Terms of Reference for an investigation into the financial model for NSW local councils.”

All special variation applications for 2024-25 are available for review on the IPART website, along with a short survey and information about how to lodge a submission.

IPART will accept feedback on special variation applications until 11:59pm on Monday 18 March 2024, and on the draft Terms of Reference for the council financial model review until 15 March 2024. IPART will release the final decision on special variation applications in May 2024.

Media Contact: Mark O’Brien, 0427 105 865, media@ipart.nsw.gov.au.