18 June 2023

Junee Council to raise rates by more than 30 per cent over next two years to avoid 'dire' alternative

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal has approved Junee Shire Council’s application to increase its special variation rate by 32.19 per cent. Photo: Junee Shire Council.

Junee ratepayers are in for another financial hit after the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) approved Junee Shire Council’s proposed rate rise.

The council applied to increase the special variation rate over the next two years by 32.19 per cent and with the IPART approval, rates will increase by 17.5 per cent in 2023-24 and 12.5 per cent in 2024-25.

Junee Mayor Neil Smith told Region he was pleased the rise was approved, otherwise, the council would have had to tighten its belt to match the resources.

“The increase in costs, energy, materials, imposed local emergency services levy and interest rises impacted council’s ability to do things,” Cr Smith said.

“The only way forward for us was to increase the rates or dramatically reduce the services we provide.”

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Cr Smith said the benefit of the rates rise was that the council would be able to maintain the standards the community expected.

He said while the council provided a high level of service, it also ran on a lean budget and workforce.

“We’re not overservicing … we have existing facilities like our aquatic centre, which costs us a little over half a million a year to run, but it provides a great level of community satisfaction and a sense of wellbeing amongst our residents,” Cr Smith said.

“We balance what we do based on the benefit, and it’s not always an economic benefit.

“The wellbeing of the community is something that can’t be measured in monetary terms.”

Cr Smith said the council had looked into other options to try to avoid a rates hike.

“We did a budget based on what the rate cap would have given us instead of the rate rise we asked for, and it looked pretty dire,” he said.

“Council had been running very close to the wind in terms of its cash on hand and being able to find the level of services.

“Most people we consulted felt they would prefer to maintain the level of service with the increase.”

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He said the pressures the regional council faced included retaining staff.

“Smaller councils are seen as a stepping stone for staff, and we cannot pay the wage, particularly at the top end at the higher-level, director-level staff,” he said.

“They are key to running a successful and well-managed organisation and we can’t compete with the bigger councils or state government, who sometimes poach our staff.

“It had been a major challenge for us for decades.”

Cr Smith thanked the Junee community for backing the council’s application to increase the rates.

“I hope they continue to enjoy and value the services and facilities we enjoy here in Junee Shire.”

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If our mayor thinks council run a lean budget & small workforce why is there 4or5 staff working on one roundabout in town or around town 5 people one working the others on their phones etc I don’t see why they need 5 people to prune the roses or weed the gardens. What services do they think they provide garbage is about all haven’t seen a street sweeper for that long the leaves in the gutter will start a car fire next, same old too many snouts in the trough.

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