Bid to fix disparity in rates fairly

SINCE the 2016 creation of Cumberland Council, residents living in different parts of the LGA have been paying very different rates depending on which former council they belonged.

As large rate rises could hit poorest

And according to a council report, fixing the residential and business rate disparities won’t be easy with the “potential for large increases for a large proportion of residents”.
It concluded that there were “significant political, reputational, social, financial and operational risks associated with the final strategy to harmonise rates”.
Hypothetical calculations based on four different options produced “extremely varied” potential outcomes, including decreases of 25 per cent for some ratepayers under one option and increases of 51 per cent for other ratepayers under another.
According to the report, the areas requiring the largest increase in rates would include groups of residents with some of the lowest ability to pay within the Sydney metropolitan area.
The harmonisation options also highlighted a range of issues previously identified when the new boundaries were drawn up, including the loss of millions a year in business rates following the transfer of areas such as Silverwater and Sydney Olympic Park to the new City of Parramatta.
Wanting to allow ample time to consult with the community, councillors opted to take the maximum four years allowed to implement new rates, starting from June 2021.
For 2020/21, the council will also seek a variation to freeze the implementation of increases on former Holroyd ratepayers to reduce the overall impact of harmonisation.
Councillors also opted to write to Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock and the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), highlighting the financial sustainability issues created by the boundary changes, and requesting approval to make an application to increase the rates cap from 2020-2021.