Snowy Valleys face rates hike

Another merged council has opted to increase its rates with neighbouring Snowy Valleys Council voting to increase rates by 15.7 per cent this year. 

The hike is in line with a recent IPART decision to allow the council to implement a 35.95 per cent rates increase over two years. 

The council is allowed to slug ratepayers a further 17.5 per cent rates-rise next financial year (2023-24). 

The council argues the special rate variation is needed to maintain services to the community while managing a range of financial headwinds, included the maintenance of grant funded new assets and recent natural disasters.

The council predicts it will record budget operating deficits of $27.3 million over the next decade without the rates hike. 

Cr James Hayes called it a “merger tax”, blaming the need to increase rates on the state government and its decision to merge the Tumut and Tumbarumba councils. 

The mayor, Ian Chaffey, agreed, but also noted grants accepted by the council to fund an airport upgrade and sports centre, totalling over $22m, had also impacted the bottom line in recurrent costs. 

“The way forward is to consolidate what we’ve got without grabbing everything coming our way,” he said. 

“I think there’s a community realisation that while the money is free, the ongoing costs aren’t.”

This year, the average Snowy Valleys residential rates bill will rise by $104 to $661. Businesses will pay an extra $239, ($1521), and farmers an extra $315 ($2007). 

If Snowy Valleys Council takes up IPART’s approval to implement another rise next year, each ratepayer will, in total, hand over an extra $238 ($889), businesses $547 ($2067) and farmers $722 ($2729). 

Over 10 years, the special rate variation is estimated to extract an extra $31.5 million from property owners and businesses for the council.

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