PORT Stephens Council will be conducting a vote on the proposed Special Rate Variation (SRV) in this coming public council meeting on Tuesday 9 October.
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The SRV has been proposed as council believes that significant works, including major projects, within the local government area are unable to be funded within its existing revenue structure.
Currently, council rates increase by a 2.5% per annum rate peg which is estimated to raise $30.9m over a seven year period.
Port Stephens Council believes that this option will only allow them to maintain existing service levels and have therefore proposed three options as part of the SRV.
The first option is a 6.5% increase per annum which would generate approximately $56.3m in addition to the $30.9m raised through the annual rate peg totalling $87.2.
The second is a 7.5% increase generating $71.8m in addition to the rate peg total of $30.9m totalling $102.7m, while the third option is an 8.5% increase generating $88m in addition to the rate peg total of $30.9m totalling $118.9m.
Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer told News Of The Area, “Over six weeks, we asked our community what they thought about a proposal to invest more in the future of Port Stephens through a special rate variation.”
“Around 2000 people took the time to provide feedback through phone surveys, online submissions and in person.”
“What our community has told us is that they want to hear more details around the projects we’re proposing.”
“They want to know more about how we’ll rejuvenate town centres, how we will support local small and medium business and which roads we’ll reseal.”
“So, going forward, we’ll now be much more specific about how these projects,” he said.
However, some feedback from residents has centered around their financial concerns about the SRV.
“Some have also highlighted affordability as their prime concern, so we’ll be reviewing our hardship policy and have already had some fantastic ideas,” Mayor Palmer added.
However, not all of council agrees with the proposal with Councillor Giacomo Arnott strongly opposing the SRV.
“I’ve heard people loud and clear and this rate rise is not wanted.” Councillor Arnott told News Of The Area.
“With electricity, petrol, insurance, and inflation all rising, wages stagnant, and unemployment continuing to rise locally, increasing rates is irresponsible and has the potential to hurt swathes of people in our community.”
“I will not be voting in favour of it and I would hope that other Councillors will listen to the community’s overwhelming views on this matter and vote accordingly.”
“I encourage all residents to come along to the meeting and make your voice heard on this matter.”
The next public council meeting will commence at 5.30pm on Tuesday October 9 at the Port Stephens Council Chambers in Raymond Terrace.
By Rachael VAUGHAN