Some residents have received a shock in the rates notices. The Northern Star Archives
Some residents have received a shock in the rates notices. The Northern Star Archives

Why some ratepayers are seeing hike in their rates this year

RATEPAYERS in Richmond Valley Council are expressing shock on social media as they open their rates notices this month, with some saying their rates had risen by $1000 from last year.

The rates notice for 2020/2021 reflects the second stage of a Special Rate Variation approved by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) last year.

In May 2019, IPART approved the council's application for a 23.9 per cent cumulative increase over four years to be retained permanently in the rate base.

The first increase of 5.5 per cent per year was implemented on July 1, 2019.

A further 5.5 per cent per year increase will occur from July this year, and a further 5.5 per cent in each of the next two years.

The SRV would increase the council's revenue by $3.9 million over four years, which the council said would fund the maintenance of existing services, infrastructure and community facilities, allow for the renewal of infrastructure, and enhance the council's financial sustainability.

In May last year, IPART Chair Dr Paul Paterson said while the percentage increase was significant, the council was able to clearly demonstrate its financial need.

"Richmond Valley Council currently has average residential rates at $960, which is lower than the average rates charged by similar councils," Dr Paterson said.

Twelve submissions, including two petitions with 360 and 289 signatures each, were received opposing the increase based on concerns about the council's financial management and affordability for ratepayers.

The variation resulted in average residential rates increasing by $54 in 2019-20 and by $238 over four years. Average business rates would rise by $170 in the first year, while farmland rates will go up by an average of $94.

But some residents are reporting overall increases far exceeding those figures.

One Evans Head resident said their overall rates had increased by $240 a year, and another saw their rates for an industrial area increase by $1000.

IPART attached conditions to the approval requiring the additional income to be used for the purposes outlined in the application, and that the Council reports to the community about how the additional revenue is spent.

Note: All percentages include the 2.7 per cent rate peg applicable to all NSW councils in 2019-20, and an estimated rate peg in subsequent years.