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Last Updated
Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Improving Hunter's Hill; Proposed Special Rate Variation

Hunter’s Hill Council is considering applying to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for a proposed Community Facilities Special Variation (SV), also known as a rate increase above the rate peg limit.

The SV will allow Council to maintain, further develop and enhance our community facilities to improve the overall quality of infrastructure and community services for all in Hunters Hill.

What is a SV?

A rates special variation allows councils to increase their general income above the State Government set rate peg. The rate peg limits the amount which councils can increase their general income by. There are a range of reasons why councils apply for special rate variations, such as; to address financial sustainability, funding new or enhanced community services and funding the development and/or maintenance of essential community infrastructure.

What will Council use the SV funding for?

Council is responsible for the management of $209,000,000 worth of assets, which deteriorate over time. If assets are not renewed in a timely manner, we are faced with increased maintenance expenses, which can decrease services to the community. Therefore, Council is seeking to specifically fund a 10 year program of community facilities, which will include upgrades, improvements and new infrastructure to our community buildings, parks, reserves and playgrounds (please see the detailed table under the heading ‘What are the options Council is considering?).

We are also aiming to improve the level at which we renew our infrastructure. We do have annual budgets for the renewal of these items, but unfortunately the funding is proving to be insufficient to maintain or improve current standards. Council is also bearing the burden of rising costs that have shifted to us from other levels of government. Recent examples include; street lighting, emergency services, increases in energy costs and additional superannuation. Many of these costs have risen at higher than inflation levels.

Have we had a Facilities SV before?

A ten-year Community Facilities Asset Infrastructure Special Rate Levy was approved by IPART in 2007/08. The income raised by this levy funded capital works identified in the Asset Management Plans for Buildings, Parks and Recreation. This special variation was applicable to all rateable properties and expired on 30 June 2017. Some specific examples of the programs that the expired levy funded included:

• Riverglade Reserve facilities upgrade
• Huntleys Wharf repairs and upgrade
• Gladesville Rd Community Centre refurbishment
• Riverside Preschool painting project.

What are the options Council is considering?

Council is currently considering 3 rating options, which are detailed below. The increase amounts listed in the tables have been calculated using a residential property with an average land value of $1,530,000 for 1 year as an example. The Community Facilities SV would stay in place for a period of 10 years. However, the Operational SV is permanent

Option 1 Rate Peg Increase (Statutory Increase)

Percentage increase 2.7%
Approximate weekly increase $0.91
Approximate annual increase $47.21
Approximate total annual amount generated $234200

What Projects Will Be Delivered:

• No new facility projects will be delivered
• Maintenance standards on buildings, parks & reserves will reduce

Option 2 Rate Peg + Community Facilities SV (10yrs)

Percentage increase 2.7% (statutory increase) + 4.04%
Approximate weekly increase $0.91 + $1.35 = $2.26
Approximate annual increase $117.26
Approximate total annual amount generated $234200 + $350000 = $584200

What Projects Will Be Delivered:

• Figtree Park new toilet block
• Henley Community Centre, Gladesville Rd Community Centre, Respite Care internal & external works including carparking
• Fairland Hall internal and external works
• Hunters Hill Pre School, Riverside Pre School and Gladesville Occasional Care internal and external upgrades and maintenance
• 10 Cowell St relocation
• Henley Cottage internal and external works
• Hunters Hill Town Hall Roof restoration, air conditioning and maintenance improvements
• Weil Park hall upgrades, sportsfield & fitness improvements
• Gladesville Reserve playground equipment, toilet and path upgrades
• Riverglade Reserve playground, carpark, toilet block & sportsfield improvements
• Bedlam Bay sportsfield improvements
• Woolwich Baths upgrades
• Harry Shelley Memorial Park, Valentia St Reserve, Harding Memorial Reserve playground upgrade
• Buffalo Creek Reserve improvements

Option 3 Rate Peg + Community Facilities SV (10yrs) + Operational SV

Percentage increase 2.7% (statutory increase) + 4.04% + 3.0%
Approximate weekly increase $0.91 + $1.35 +$1.00 = $3.26
Approximate annual increase $169.39
Approximate total annual amount generated $234200 + $350000 +$359700 = $843900

What Projects Will Be Delivered:

• Figtree Park new toilet block
• Henley Community Centre, Gladesville Rd Community Centre, Respite Care internal & external works including carparking
• Fairland Hall internal and external works
• Hunters Hill Pre School, Riverside Pre School and Gladesville Occasional Care internal and external upgrades and maintenance
• 10 Cowell St relocation
• Henley Cottage internal and external works
• Hunters Hill Town Hall Roof restoration, air conditioning and maintenance improvements
• Weil Park hall upgrades, sportsfield & fitness improvements
• Gladesville Reserve playground equipment, toilet and path upgrades
• Riverglade Reserve playground, carpark, toilet block & sportsfield improvements
• Bedlam Bay sportsfield improvements
• Woolwich Baths upgrades
• Harry Shelley Memorial Park, Valentia St Reserve, Harding Memorial Reserve playground upgrade
• Buffalo Creek Reserve improvements
AND
• Insurance, cleaning, utility and sundry maintenance
• Street lighting and emergency services

How Would A SV Affect Businesses?

The table below outlines how a SV would affect a business with an average land value of $1,138,500 for 1 year. The Community Facilities SV would stay in place for a period of 10 years and the Operational SV would be permanent.

Percentage Increase Approximate weekly increase Approximate annual increase
Option 1
Rate peg increase (statutory increase) 2.7% $0.91 $45.65
Option 2
Rate peg + Community Facilities SV (10yrs) 2.7% + 4.04% $0.91 + $1.10 = $2.01 $102.89
Option 3
Rate peg + Community Facilities SV (10yrs) + Operational SV (4yrs) 2.7% + 4.04% + 3.0% $0.91 + $1.10 + $.75 = $2.76 $141.68

How do I know exactly what the increased cost to my rates will be?

A rates calculator is available for the 2019/2020 financial year, including the Options outlined on this page. All you will need is your 2018 Rate Notice, which has your land value, your rating category and your waste service.

What SV's does council already have in place?

Environmental Levy
This Special Variation commenced on 01/07/2013 and provides funding for $1.8M of environmental works over 10 years.

Roads Infrastructure Special Rate

Roads Infrastructure Special Rate commenced on 01/07/2012 for a period of 10 years. This special rate provides Council with the funds to undertake the extensive roads capital expenditure program.

Other Infrastructure Special Rate

Other Infrastructure Special Rate commenced on 01/07/2013 for a period of 10 years. This special rate provides Council with $2.5M to undertake the footpath, kerb and gutter renewal program.

Are Hunter’s Hill Council rates already higher than other council areas?

Rates across NSW remain at relatively modest levels compared to other states because of rate pegging. It is not accurate to state that Hunter’s Hill Council residents pay more than residents in neighbouring areas. Due to the volume of high valued properties in our municipality our average published rate is higher than the averages for other councils, but this is not reflected in the real rates that the majority of our residents actually pay. For the majority of our residents their actual rates are lower than for similar properties in neighbouring areas.

Has council tried other funding options?

As outlined in Council’s Community Strategic Plan, Council has implemented a number of measures to reduce the burden of maintaining assets onto ratepayers. Council has made some difficult decisions including the installation of parking meters at Clarkes Point Reserve and Buffalo Creek Reserve. Council has also; increased its reliance on grant funding, implemented energy saving initiatives, made changes to purchasing policies and is currently investigating shared services with neighbouring councils.

The burden of rates in the Hunters Hill local government area rests predominantly with residents. There are very few businesses to share this burden, particularly in comparison to larger metropolitan councils who have large scale business rates due to shopping centres and commercial areas.

Council understands that a rate rise is never welcome, but it is important to outline the reasons as to why we need to have this conversation.

What happens if Council does not apply for a SV?

Over time, the current condition of our key infrastructure such community buildings, parks, reserves and playgrounds will deteriorate to a level that will result in operational inefficiencies and increased maintenance expenditure.

Eventually, there will be poorer levels of service, and a backlog of work to improve our assets. Unless we proactively increase funding now, we will be leaving future generations with significant liabilities.

Hunter’s Hill Council has always focused resources on the careful management of our assets, and we want to ensure this continues into the future by having an adequate revenue base to fund asset renewal.

Next Steps

  • Community Engagement
  • Council Decision
  • IPART Application
  • IPART Determination

Council will review all of the feedback received from ratepayers, review the impacts both for and against a potential special rate implementation and make a formal decision in November 2018.

Easy ways for you to give Feedback

Council wants all ratepayers to be informed and have the opportunity to provide feedback.

• Email council@huntershill.nsw.gov.au
• Write: PO Box 21 Hunters Hill, NSW 2110.
• Ph: 9879 9400.
• Take part in the telephone survey if you are called.

Submissions close on Friday 7 December 2018.


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