This year's rate peg is "realistic" in the tough economic climate, says Goulburn Mulwaree Council's general manager.
But Warwick Bennett makes no secret of the fact he's no fan of the system under which the State restricts councils' general revenue.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) announced this week that councils could increase revenue by a maximum two per cent in 2021-22.
Tribunal member Deborah Cope said it recognised that councils faced higher costs for their 2021 local government elections.
"We have included an adjustment of 0.2 per cent for election costs based on the expected costs for the average council in NSW," she said.
"The adjustment will be reversed through the 2022/23 rate peg, to ensure that ratepayers are not overcharged in subsequent, non-election years."
The peg is based on the annual change in the Local Government Cost Index, which measures the average costs faced by NSW councils. Councils then decide how they disperse this across the various rate categories.
Ms Cope said the rate peg was lower than previous years, which was a "positive outcome" for ratepayers.
Mr Bennett agrees now is not the time to hit people with higher charges.
"It's a case of us needing to tighten our belts to meet the current circumstances," he said.
But he remained opposed to rate pegging, saying ratepayers, rather than the state government, should decide if they would pay more for services.
In addition, he said the state's continued cost shifting was placing great financial pressure on councils.
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Last year the council was hit with a $100,000 increase in its emergency services levy. Over four years it will pay $600,000 to help cover volunteer and career firefighters.
Following lobbying from the local government sector, the state issued assistance grants. Goulburn Mulwaree received $73,000 in 2019 and $197,000 this year.
"Those grants will not be available again and ratepayers will have to cover the levy," Mr Bennett said.
He hoped "commonsense would prevail" with a further government offer of help.
Mr Bennett said the state had also shifted compliance responsibility for fuel site decontamination on to councils, which had increased costs.
Next year's council elections are estimated to cost $290,000, which will be shared between Goulburn Mulwaree, Upper Lachlan and Yass Valley Shires.
The GM said while his council set aside funds each year for this, costs could be dramatically reduced with a move to electronic voting.
Mr Bennett has ruled out a special rate variation to cope with increased costs.
"It would be unreasonable in the current environment to put that on the community. It is well off the agenda," he said.
Meantime, IPART announced that it would not set a limit on percentage variations for annual domestic waste charges made by councils for 2021-22.
However, it is currently seeking feedback on its recently released discussion paper on these charges, which may impact future decisions. Fact sheets on the rate peg and domestic waste charges are available on IPART's website.
People are invited to have their say by October 6, 2020.
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