Council addressing financial sustainability


Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council is currently considering its ongoing financial sustainability, Mayor Kenrick Winchester issued the following statement.

‘Staff are preparing an updated Long-Term Financial Plan that will be presented to the Council meeting on 23 November. The updated Long-Term Financial Plan will include scenarios for a rate increase to address Council’s financial sustainability.’

‘There are many factors that have led us to this point. Both the former Palerang Council and Queanbeyan City Council were considering options to increase revenue before the merger.’

‘When the NSW Government merged the two councils, neither were in a financially sustainable position. The legislation stopped us from increasing our income or making some decisions to reduce expenses, like consolidating administration offices or staff.’

‘The merged Council was not permitted to raise rates for four years.’

‘While we were able to make infrastructure improvements and build new infrastructure with funding we received after the merger, the community expect better road networks, better services and accessible community amenities across the LGA. Council has been providing these services with its constrained funding.’

‘The rate increases set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) through the rate peg don't come close to meeting the increased costs of doing everything the community expects from us.’

‘The costs of construction and materials for projects continue to increase. A truck full of gravel or hot mix are both harder to get and costs over double what it used to. Our staff costs continue to increase. We’ve had ongoing population growth and the costs to expand services is increasing more than the income received from additional ratepayers.’

‘We’ve also had additional costs from responding to multiple natural disasters and the pandemic.’

‘Many councils across the state face a similar financial situation. Over the last twelve years, councils in NSW have been approved for 168 different special rate variations. Some councils have had multiple rate variations in that time.’

‘QPRC is one of five merged councils that has not had a rate variation either pre- or post-merger. Seven of the 24 merged councils have had SRVs in the last 2 years.’

‘We don’t want to reduce staff, we don’t want to cut services, we don’t want to close pools or reduce our maintenance budgets, but that’s the reality unless we do something about the income we receive.’

‘As elected representatives, we have a duty to ensure Council continues to pay the bills and provide the services the community expects from local government. We need to be in a position that will deliver more road maintenance, new footpaths and inclusive swimming pools.’

‘Council will be considering the Long-Term Financial Plan at the meeting next week, and then we will be going out to the community to get their feedback on these rate scenarios. The community will be able to make comments until the end of January 2023.’

‘Following community feedback, Council will determine an application to IPART about a rate variation in February.’

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