IPART and Integrated Planning
IPART stands for the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of NSW which is a NSW government agency that makes decisions independantly of the government. Among other things, IPART sets the income limit for councils and approves any increases over a certain time period.
Council's Application to IPART in 2012
In February, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council applied to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for a Special Rate Variation for the 2012/13 financial year.
The application included a proposal to continue to permanently apply a 7.3% special rate variation (due to expire at the end of the 2011/2012 financial year), with an additional increase of 4.43% to be in the rates base for a period of five (5) years only. These increases would be in addition to the government approved rate peg of 3.36%.
The decision to apply was based on the opinions expressed in the public consultation Council undertook for a period of 6 weeks during November and December 2011. The consultation program labelled 'Funding Future Services' contained background fact sheets, a comprehensive brochure, an online forum and paper surveys that presented funding options relating specifically to works options. Over 2400 people completed the online survey and expressed their opinion, as well as more than 80 written submissions were received to Council.
The IPART Decision and Rate Rise Outcomes for 2012
The application was approved by IPART in June 2012, which means Council has now created a level of financial security that allows substantial funds to be directed into the priority area of road maintenance and construction.
Retaining the 7.3% increase will fund specific projects in the 2012/13 Operational Plan including crucial roadwords and resurfacing. The addition of a further 4.43% into the rates base will generate $1.68 million a year for the next five years. This money will fund further roadworks, parks and recreation maintenance, as well as a number of specific bridge, resurfacing and rehabilitation projects throughout the LGA.
Previous IPART Applications and Outcomes
During 2009/2010, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council undertook a very extensive community engagement program that involved consultation with approximately 3,000 residents, either face-to-face, via surveys or on-line forums.
As part of that process, the local community indicated their priorities for the Hastings and what they wanted for the area in the future. This work showed that residents placed a large emphasis on community assets, roads, drainage, bridges and parks.
This consultation fed into the development of the overall Towards 2030 Community Strategic Plan, the 2011-2015 Delivery Program and 2011-2012 Operational Plan.
The proposed level of work set out in the Operational Plan and the need to address the $110 million backlog of infrastructure that requires renewing or replacing, saw Council resolve to apply to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal for a Special Rate Variation for the 2010/2011 financial year.
For the 2010/2011 budget, Council applied for a 7.36% Special Rate Variation on top of the statewide capped increase of 2.8%.
Council's application for a Special Rate Variation was approved for a 7.36% rate increase for 2010/2011 financial year.
For the 2011/2012 budget, Council applied to retain the 7.36% rate rise awarded in the 2010/2011 financial year and for an additional 5.18% Special Rate Variation on top of the statewide capped rate increase of 2.8%.
The Special Rate Variation application also included a further rate increase of 3% above the previous year and the capped rate increase for 2012/2013 and the assumption of only the capped rate increase for 2013/2014.
Council's application for a Special Rate Variation had only partially been approved. IPART approved a one year Special Rate Variation of 7.30% above the existing rate peg increase, with the other parts of the application being denied.