27 June 2023

Rates rise leads agenda in Wagga Council's 11-minute, 10-motion meeting

| Jarryd Rowley
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Wagga Council chambers

Wagga City Council took all of 11 minutes to move 10 motions during its Ordinary Meeting on Monday night. Photo: WWCC.

It took all of 11 minutes for Wagga Wagga City Council to make its way through a packed agenda during the 26 June Ordinary Meeting on Monday night (26 June).

The meeting consisted of 10 motions, which included a financial performance review, the sale of land for unpaid rates and the allocation of funding to major events and festivals.

Mayor Dallas Tout believes the councillors’ ability to listen and take on one another’s opinions has helped establish a productive council.

“Council are working well together as an elected body,” Cr Tout said.

“It comes from the ability for people to have different opinions and to express those opinions, but we still debate appropriately and we’re coming to the decisions.

“It’s also the number of workshops that we’re having, and the relationships with the senior staff and all staff across the council that has formed a really good working relationship.”

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Cr Tout said despite the fast pace of the meeting, many hours had been put in behind the scenes over several months, leading to cohesion between council workers and elected members.

Among the rapidly approved motions from Monday night’s meeting was that involving several alterations to the 2023/24 local budget.

Included in the changes was a local land rate increase of 3.8 per cent for the 2023/24 financial year.

Council chief financial officer Carolyn Rodney said rates and annual changes were among the biggest revenue streams for local government authorities and an increase was needed to meet inflation-led costs.

“Councils are not immune to the cost of living that everyone is experiencing,” Ms Rodney said.

“IPART [Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal] set the rate peg each financial year. They’ve set our rate peg for all councils at 3.7 per cent. Added with the population factor as well, Wagga has been set at 0.1 per cent. Council is able to raise our rates by 3.8 per cent.”

Ms Rodney said the minimum ratepayers could expect was an increase of $22 on their property rates this financial year, but insisted that the rise was reasonable and would be included in each property owner’s rates notice.

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Under the Local Government Act, Wagga Wagga City Council has the right to sell a vacant parcel of land whose rates are left unpaid for five years.

As of 27 June, one property had fallen into that category.

“In this instance, for some properties, after all attempts from council, we’ve been unable to enter into an appropriate payment arrangement or been able to contact the property holder,” Ms Rodney said.

“There are a number of properties that will fall into the five-year mark next financial year, and we’re looking at things we can do there because council is not in the business of selling houses or parcels of land.”

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