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Council to undertake community consultation on rate harmonisation

18/05/2020

The Georges River community will soon have the opportunity to share further feedback regarding the proposed harmonisation of the rating structure for the former Kogarah and Hurstville local government areas.
 
Council, at its meeting on 10 February 2020, resolved to defer an application to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for a Special Rate Variation (SRV) and Rate Harmonisation application, to investigate staff and salary reductions as part of future cost saving measures.
 
Mayor of Georges River Council Kevin Greene said that initial consultation regarding Council’s proposed rates restructure in 2019 identified strong community support for a harmonised rate across the local government area.
 
“Extensive community engagement last year revealed that 78% of more than 6,000 respondents were supportive of introducing a consistent minimum rate across the city, making it clear that residents want the rating system to be equitable,” said Mayor Greene.
 
“At its meeting on 27 April 2020, Council resolved to proceed with a second round of community engagement regarding the proposed rates harmonisation, which will take place later in the year.
 
“Current legislation requires Council to harmonise its rating structure by 1 July 2021, and the purpose of this engagement is to enable residents to have their say on the proposed new minimum rate.
 
“Communications will cover a variety of mediums, including a mail-out to all Georges River residents and ratepayers with a reply-paid survey, community information workshops, a telephone survey and an online survey.
 
“The results of this engagement will be supplied to IPART in Council’s application to apply a harmonised rating structure across the local government area,” added Mayor Greene.
 
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Council reported a forecast operating deficit of $13 million for 2020/21. To minimise Council’s projected operating deficit, protect cash reserves and weather any adverse impact of COVID-19, programs, services and projects have been reduced, deferred or cancelled.
 
Council has reduced its shortfall to a projected deficit of $3.2 million by taking a number of measures including reducing expenditure across the organisation and council services such as the removal of some internal staff benefits, the Councillor Discretionary Ward fund, and the voluntary Pensioner Rebate. There is also no increase budgeted for the mandated annual salary Award increase.
 
A Notice of Motion put forward by Councillor Nick Katris which called for Council not to enact any staff budgetary reductions or reduction in staff numbers prior to or during the 2020/2021 budgetary period, was supported at the Extraordinary Council Meeting on Monday 20 April 2020.
 
Council will seek guidance from the Minister for Local Government on the process required to maintain the expiring former Hurstville Special Rate Variation in the event that Council harmonises the rate structure in 2021/22.
 
For information on Georges River Council, please visit www.georgesriver.nsw.gov.au or call 9330 6400.
 
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