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Council to seek rate cap variation

News Article Date: 
Wednesday, 27 March 2019

The Warrnambool City Council will submit an application to the Essential Services Commission (ESC) for a variation to the rate cap, following a resolution from Council on March 25.

Council will seek a total rate increase of 4.5 per cent of the average rateable assessment for each year (inclusive of any approved rate cap) in the 2019-2020, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 financial years.

This would equate to an additional annual cost of about $40, on average, per household.

Council also resolved that should it receive a rise above the rate cap, then that amount is to be clearly recorded separately to identify how additional revenue raised through the variation was spent, with the focus to be on asset renewal.

If an exemption to the rate cap is successful, additional funds in the first two financial years will be used to renew Council roads, footpaths and other assets which are in urgent need of attention.

Additional funds from the third financial year of the exemption will be directed to further asset renewal and to offset the increased costs for the new library/learning hub.

Warrnambool City Council Chief Executive Officer Peter Schneider said that while the prospect of higher taxes would never be popular, the ESC would thoroughly examine Council’s financial position before making its decision.

“The ESC applies an extremely stringent review criteria to ensure that all reasonable steps have been taken or are being taken to find efficiencies before an exemption to the rate cap would be granted,” he said.

“Due to factors such as cost shifting by other levels of government, a reduction or the freezing of external grants as well as a drop in Council revenue, we are now in a position where our assets are deteriorating faster than we can fund their maintenance and repair.

“Council will remain focussed on finding further efficiencies and reviewing the appropriateness of the level of services provided to the community.

“One very timely example of this is our move to share software and business processes with Moyne and Corangamite Shire councils, which will save time and money in the areas of finance, payroll and the issuing of permits.”

A full audio recording of the meeting is available at www.soundcloud.com/warrnamboolcity

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