Rising rates in the Queanbeyan-Palerang council area

Administrator Tim Overall said the council was well positioned to fund the region's poor infrastructure.
Administrator Tim Overall said the council was well positioned to fund the region's poor infrastructure.

Residents in parts of the merged Queanbeyan-Palerang council will have their rates and charges increased by as much as 3 per cent in the next financial year.

Googong's residential areas will be most impacted by the proposed rise and will pay $118 more for the year, but this was relative to an increase in land value.

Under the council’s draft revenue policy for 2017-18, general rates will rise 1.5 per cent, waste charges by 4 per cent and water and sewerage by 2.2 per cent.

Localities across the council will all pay at least 2 per cent more than the 2016/17 financial year.

After the forced amalgamations in 2016, the NSW government restricted general rates increases to the 1.5 per cent figure set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal before the merger.

The state government also froze this rate for four financial years. 

This means the council can not increase revenue through raising rates until 2020/21 and can not harmonise rating categories within the local government area until the same time.

A report undertaken on behalf of council in 2016 foreshadowed large increases to rates and charges following the four year freeze due to the poor condition of the region’s infrastructure.

But administrator Tim Overall said the financial position of council in this budget, with a surplus of $17,000, meant they were in a good position to fund projects. 

“The Percy Allen report was a review of the standard of all our assets and the backlog that's required to be funded,” he said.

“Going forwards, that's part of a long term financial plan that goes out for 10 years, and we'll be able to fund the asset renewal through that process.”

He said cash given to merged councils had also allowed Queanbeyan-Palerang to solidify its position without the need to dig into the pockets of residents.

“All those councils that aren't merged, whether it's Goulburn, Eurobodalla, or Yass Valley, they've all had approvals for significant rate variations, with adjustments between 7-9 per cent year on year for the next five years,” Mr Overall said.

“We're not in that position because we got the stronger community fund grant of $10 million and we're on the rate path restriction.”

The previous Queanbeyan City Council applied for a one-off special rate variation of 5.8 per cent in 2011/12.

This raises about $1.2 million each year for the CityCare program and only applies to those in the Queanbeyan area.

The 2017/18 budget has allocated $6.5 million for the design and planning of the sewage plant upgrade.

"That's going to be one of the major projects undertaken by the Queanbeyan-Palerang council over the next decade,” Mr Overall said.

"Our plan is to have it fully constructed and operational in five years."