Kerry McMurray, Council’s Director Corporate, Commercial and Community Services, is giving a series of presentations at community forums to explain the rationale and need for the 6 per cent rate rise for each of the next three years.
The first of these was held at the November Kiama Central Precinct Meeting, and he will also present at the next meetings of the South Precinct, the Kiama & District Business Chamber and the Minnamurra Progress Association.
While acknowledging that no-one likes a rate rise, Mr McMurray explained the extent of these rate rises had been included in Council’s Long Term Financial Plan since 2014. They were also widely publicised as being necessary in Council’s Fit for the Future (FFF) proposals.
The rise includes the state set 2.3 per cent rate pegging increase, and the increase is cumulative over the three years.
“We need the variation to meet the FFF asset maintenance and renewal benchmarks,” he says.
At 19.1 per cent, the cum-ulative impact of Kiama’s rate rises is much less than that applied for in recent years by neighbouring councils, with Shellharbour’s rising 41.15% over the last four years, Wingecarribee’s rising by 45.3 per cent by 2019/20 and Shoalhaven’s rising 31 per cent if its current application is approved.
Mr McMurray explains that as part of the ongoing FFF process, there has been a focus on improving the way Council does its role, with the Long Term Financial Plan setting an efficiency target of 2.5 per cent to reduce costs and improve processes. This is being met through improvements in procurement, streamlining of processes and improvements to service delivery models. There has been no increase to staff numbers for two and a half years (apart from the incorporation of Kiama Tourism this year).
Contrary to what is often thought, Mr McMurray says that a residential rate comparison of neighbouring councils, based on the average residential land value of $418,274, shows that Kiama’s rates are the lowest in the region.
“There is nothing in the 10 Year Financial Plan that indicates the need for a further Special Rate Variation,” he says.
A rates calculator will soon be available on Council’s website for ratepayers to calculate their increase, along with answers to Frequently asked Questions.
Minnamurra Progress Association
5 December, Progress Hall, Charles St, 7.30pm
21 December, Gerringong Town Hall, 7.30pm