North Sydney ‘slugged’ with 7 per cent rate increase
North Sydney Council has again voted to support a 7 per rate rise, with independent councillors labelling the move as ‘unfathomable and unconscionable’ in the face of pandemic and recession.
At its July meeting, Council voted to increase rates in accordance with a decision by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) last year allowing a 22.5 per cent hike over three years.
Under a process known as special rate variation (SRV), Council can increase rates by 7 per cent per annum in the 20219/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years.
However, some councillors say observing the rise this financial year is ‘unnecessary and objectionable’ considering the financial impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“In these difficult times of pandemic and recession, it is unfathomable and unconscionable to me that the majority on this Council are imposing large rate increases without looking at any real change to the budget,” explains Councillor Zoe Baker.
“They are slugging ratepayers without really getting their house in order.”
She references Council’s decision to move ahead with the $48m revamp of North Sydney Pool, with $15m covered by State and Federal Government grants.
Her words are echoed by fellow independent councillor MaryAnn Beregi, who has called this year’s increase an ‘objectionable financial burden being imposed the community’.
“Applying the SRV was lazy politics when Council had made no effort to improve its own efficiency or seek other options.”
Mayor Jilly Gibson defended the increase, saying the SRV was necessary for Council to deliver on its capital infrastructure projects and essential maintenance, including the upgrades to Kirribilli and McMahon’s Point centres.
“Our ratepayers can see for themselves that our infrastructure is improving,” she says.
“I’m one of the most accessible mayors in Sydney and I have not received a single phone call on this issue. I find it disturbing that a couple of councillors will use a pandemic to play politics.”