Tamworth ratepayers will likely be hit with a hefty rate hike next financial year, regardless of whether the city's council moves forward on a plan to apply for an even bigger increase.
The NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has set Tamworth Regional Council's rate peg - the maximum amount it can raise rates for the 2024-25 financial year - at 4.9 per cent, blowing recent years' historically low rate pegs out of the water.
"The new methodology we have applied will better account for the diversity among NSW councils and help ensure ratepayers contribute only to costs relevant to their local government area," IPART Chair Carmel Donnelly said.
"These rate pegs are based on employee cost increases, forecast inflation, and council-specific changes in Emergency Services Levy contributions and population growth."
Tamworth Regional Council was predicting a 3.5 per cent rate peg, from which it based its plans to request a 36.3 per cent special rate variation (SRV) from IPART.
Mayor Russell Webb said the higher-than-predicted rate peg likely won't impact council's upcoming decision on whether to apply for the SRV since it would be absorbed into the 36.3 per cent increase, but he'd have to "see the rate peg and have a think" before making further comment.
Neighbouring councils have also been granted much higher rate pegs than in recent years.
Armidale, Narrabri, Walcha, Uralla, Gwydir and Inverell councils have all been given a 4.5 per cent rate peg, Glen Innes and the Liverpool Plains each received a 4.8 per cent cap, and Gunnedah was granted the highest rate rise in the region - 5.6 per cent - due to its rapidly-increasing population.
Ms Donnelly said the rate pegs were one of several factors councils needed to consider in their budgets.
"Councils across NSW provide important goods, services, and facilities to their local communities and fund their operations from a mix of income sources, one of which is general income. The rate peg represents the maximum percentage amount by which a council may increase its general income," she said.
"It applies to each council's general income in total, not to individual ratepayers' rates. Councils may increase categories of rates by more or less than the rate peg, provided the total increase in general income remains within the rate peg."
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