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Book keeping

Bill shock reprieve for ratepayers

18 May 2021

Ratepayers have been saved from serious bill shock after strong Local Government NSW advocacy drove an amendment which allows up to eight-years to harmonise rates for councils that were amalgamated in 2016.

The amendment to the Local Government Amendment Bill 2021– passed through the NSW Parliament’s Upper House last week – means the council rate increases as a result of amalgamations can now be introduced more gradually.

“Amalgamating two or more councils means differing rate structures and service provision needed to be bought into a fair alignment for all ratepayers in the new local government area,” Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott said after the amendment passed.

“We’re pleased and grateful that the NSW Parliament has listened to councils and saved communities from potential hip pocket pain.”

Cr Scott also welcomed the legislation’s inclusion of clauses which will see councils able to pay superannuation to their mayors and councillors for the first time, bringing them into line with other workers in NSW.

“Councillor superannuation means fairer compensation for hard working local government representatives,” she said.

“Fairer compensation means a wider range of candidates will consider running for local government, especially women and other minority sections of our community, and that means councils that truly represent our communities.”

“Again, this is something LGNSW has long advocated for and I am very pleased that NSW councillors will soon have the same rights to superannuation as other Australians.”

Other reforms contained in the legislation passed by the NSW Parliament included:

  • Greater transparency on rates notices, so the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) imposed by the State Government is clearly identified and no longer hidden inside the total rates item
  • An increase in the term of chairs of county councils to two years which is in line with a past LGNSW annual conference resolution and the LGNSW Policy Platform.
  • Increasing flexibility through new rating categories to allow for more efficient and equitable allocation of rates.
  • Setting a time limit for the Minister for Local Government to make public any reports on de-amalgamation proposals, making the process more transparent for affected communities.

LGNSW also welcomes the Government’s commitment to align council rates with population growth, to ensure councils have sufficient funding to provide the infrastructure and services their growing communities need and deserve, through work being undertaken via the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.

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