Friday, February 26, 2021

Harmonisation of Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marricville Rates


There will be a second Extraordinary Council meeting, on monday night at 6.30 via zoom, to determine whether we make a submission to IPART (Independent Pricing Regulatory Tribunal) for a new Harmonised Residential minimum of $850 across the Inner West LGA. 
The proposal is only to change the minimum, which affects how much individual properties pay. It will not to change the amount of income the Council gets to deliver services. 
To increase the revenue that council collects would require a Special Rate Variation (SRV).
The alternatives for Harmonisation are not to exceed the Marrickville Residential Minimum Rate of $710. The Leichhardt Residential Minimum is $686. 
If Council does not determine a Residential minimum for next financial year. We have been advised that the default of $546 will apply across the LGA. $820 is the Ashfield Business Minimum. Ashfield has a base residential rating structure instead of a Minimum. 
State Government has legislated that "New" Council have to harmonise their rates for the next financial year. However, they are only now introducing legislation into parliament to allow phasing in of harmonised rates. 
Ashfield and Marricville Councils applied and were granted SRVs in 2015. 
Draft Unconfirmed Minutes for the Extraordinary Council meeting held last Tuesday to discuss Harmonisationof Rates are now available. We did not resolve any of the four resolutions

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Rates Harmonisation Extraordinary Council Meeting 23 Feb 2021


4 motions were put forward at tonight's extraordinary council meeting and none were resolved. This reflected the challenge we are facing in harmonising rates.
Over January, the community overwhelmingly rejectied the proposal to introduce new min rates of $850/$820.
Tonight Greens proposed that we recognise this rejection and defer Harmonisation until after we run a referendum on the amalgamation at the elections in September.

Moved Porteous/Hesse
That Council:
  1. Notes the significant community opposition to the proposal for rates “harmonisation"
  2. Notes that Community Consultation overwhelmingly rejects the minimum rates tabled in point 3 of the Council officer’s recommendation (Minimum rates $850 residential/$820 business).
  3. Recognises that the inherent unfairness of this “rates harmonization” process which results in the benefit of lower rates to some residents being at the cost of higher rates to others.
  4. Notes that the only fair way to proceed is to remove winners and losers in this rates recalculation process and retain the existing rate structures of the three councils : Ashfield, Marrickville and Leichhardt Councils.
  5. That Inner West Council therefore immediately writes to the NSW Minister for Local Government seeking permanent retention of the pre-amalgamation rating structures for the three councils.
  6. That Council recognises that the “rates harmonisation” is the direct result of the forced amalgamation of the three councils: Ashfield, Marrickville and Leichhardt.
  7. That Council therefore immediately writes to the NSW Minister for Local Government to request that a referendum be authorised at the forthcoming local government elections set for September 2021 to answer the question “do you wish Inner West Council to revert to its previous local government areas of Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville
  8. That Council writes to the Premier, Treasurer, Minister for Local Government and the Indepentsdendent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) informing them that Council is not able to implement their directive to implement the new rating system due to its inherent unfairness to the citizens and businesses of the Inner West.
The Government is only now proposing legislation to phase in rates harmonisation for amalgamated councils.
Domestic Waste Charges and services are yet to be consulted on.

"New" Amalgamated Council Temporary Special Guidelines for
setting a harmonised minimum

"Temporary Special Guidelines have been issued to new councils required to harmonise rates on 1 July 2021 and seeking to set a harmonised minimum ordinary rate across their new council area. The temporary Special Guidelines apply to new councils in specific circumstances only." - OLG (25 Nov 2020)

New Legislation to be introduced into Parliament

"If passed by the NSW Parliament, this Bill would:

  • allow those new councils created in 2016 that have not already harmonised their rating structures to do so gradually over four years"

 Source: 20-42 Release of Exposure Draft Bill on local government rating reform

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