Hornsby Shire Council today welcomed news that the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has approved in full its application for a Special Rate Variation (SRV), giving Council the opportunity to advance plans to secure a sound financial future for the Shire.
Council applied for the SRV to ensure it can continue to support and provide the community with the levels of service it has come to expect through maintaining financial sustainability, long term sustainable management of community assets and implementing priority strategic initiatives. It was its first application for an SRV in over a decade, having consistently worked hard to reduce expenditure and to maintain levels of service in an increasingly difficult financial climate.
Hornsby Shire Mayor Philip Ruddock AO outlined how this decision would benefit the people of the Shire, while ensuring Council meets its legislated obligation to manage its budget responsibly.
“As a Council, we want Hornsby Shire to prosper into the future, and for this to happen, we need a firm financial foundation. Our revised Long Term Financial Plan for 2023/24 to 2032/33 outlines how we can ensure this, and the SRV is just one of the important actions we are taking,” Mayor Ruddock said.
“We acknowledge that by implementing the SRV, the community would see a moderate rise in our rates, coming at a time when many are feeling financial pressure. I want to emphasise that we take our responsibility to manage our resources very seriously. As responsible stewards, we want to reassure people that we remain committed to continuing the highest levels of service while spending their money wisely.
“From these funds, in addition to well-maintained assets, the community can expect to see a large range of tangible improvements in the coming years. These include upgrades to public toilets, community centres and sportsground amenities. We will start work on a connected network of walking and cycling paths and improve our bushwalking paths.
“The money will also be spent preparing our community for the future through resilience programs, bushfire mitigation and education, and events and activities to build social inclusion. We will make plans to revitalise the Pennant Hills Town Centre and to further protect our community’s personal information through improved cyber security.
“This decision by IPART gives us the basis to continue our long record of prudent financial management and we look forward to working with the community to build the Hornsby Shire of the future.”
Should the 2023-2026 Delivery Program including the Operational Plan 2023/24 (DPOP) and Budget, including the SRV, be adopted by Council, it would be applied from 1 July 2023. Rates would rise by 8.5% in 2023/24, 7.5% in 2024/25, 6.5% in 2025/26 and 5.5% in 2026/27. This includes the annual rate peg set by IPART.
To address concerns in the community around financial hardship, the pensioner rate concession will increase by $50, to $300 per annum, commencing from the 2023/24 financial year.
We have also reviewed our Hardship Policy in accordance with both the guidelines provided by the Office of Local Government and current industry best practice prior to the adoption of the 2023/24 Delivery Program and Budget. The revised Policy includes all relief that is legally permissible according to the Local Government Act.
Further, there will be no increase to the Domestic Waste Charges applied to the 2023/24 annual rates notice for all rate payers.
A full breakdown of how the SRV will be spent is detailed in the draft DPOP available atyoursay.hornsby.nsw.gov.au/dpop. The document was on public exhibition from 13 April to 15 May and will be presented to Council for adoption on 28 June.
For further information about the SRV visit yoursay.hornsby.nsw.gov.au/srv.