Hornsby Shire Council takes next step to maintain long term financial sustainability

Hornsby Shire Council

At last night’s meeting, Council received and noted a report detailing the outcome of an extensive program of community engagement around applying to the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for a Special Rate Variation (SRV) and determined to advise IPART of its intention to make an application for an SRV in respect of the 2023/24 financial year.

The purpose of the SRV is to ensure Council can continue to support and provide the community with the levels of service is has come to expect through maintaining financial sustainability, long term sustainable management of community assets and the implementation of priority strategic initiatives.

Hornsby Shire Mayor Philip Ruddock explained that the decision to progress the application for an SRV had not been taken lightly but was the responsible choice to ensure Council meets its legislated obligation to manage its budget responsibly.

“For over a decade, Hornsby Shire Council has been making tough decisions to reduce expenditure and to maintain levels of service in an increasingly difficult financial climate. The last time we applied to IPART for an SRV was twelve years ago,” said Mayor Ruddock.

“Following careful consideration and taking on board the extensive community feedback received, we have adopted the Long Term Financial Plan for 2023/24 to 2032/33 which outlines how we can ensure a sound financial future. We will now progress the application for an SRV to be spread across its first four years.

“The community engagement process was extensive and included community forums, meetings and presentations with stakeholder groups, a drop-in session with translators available and a range of collateral and communication. We thank everyone who took the time to engage with us on this important issue and all those who provided their feedback through submissions and completing the survey.

“We are acutely aware that some of our residents are experiencing financial hardship at present and feel it is important to address concerns around a possible rise in rates. For this reason, should IPART approve our application for an SRV, we have to committed increasing our pensioner rate concession by $50, to $300 per annum, commencing from the 2023/24 financial year.

“We will also review our Hardship Policy in accordance with both the guidelines provided by the Office of Local Government and current industry best practice prior to the adoption of the 2023/24 Delivery Program and Budget and develop a comprehensive communications plan to ensure that our community is aware of options for support outlined within this Policy.”

Should Council’s application to IPART for an SRV be successful, rates would rise by 8.5% in 2023/24, 7.5% in 2024/25, 6.5% in 2025/26 and 5.5% in 2026/27, which includes the annual rate peg set by IPART.

Council will notify IPART of its intention to apply by Friday, 25 November 2022 and progress its SRV application so that it is completed and submitted to IPART by the due date of 3 February 2023.

The full agenda of the meeting, along with details of this item, can be found at hornsby.nsw.gov.au. The video recording of the meeting will be available from Thursday afternoon.

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