Hawkesbury reacts angrily to Special Rate Variation approval

Hawkesbury Council will almost certainly raise its rates by 9.5 per cent each year for the next three years, after receiving IPART's blessing. Picture: Geoff Jones
Hawkesbury Council will almost certainly raise its rates by 9.5 per cent each year for the next three years, after receiving IPART's blessing. Picture: Geoff Jones

THE Hawkesbury community has reacted angrily to news that Hawkesbury Council will implement a Special Rate Variation.

The Hawkesbury Gazette’s Facebook page was flooded with angry comments, with some favourable, reacting to news that a rates rise is all but certain for the next financial year.

Meanwhile, Member for Hawkesbury Dominic Perrottet has labelled Hawkesbury Council’s financial management as ‘hopeless’, while Hawkesbury Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett said IPART had found otherwise and believed Council had good financial management

Mr Perrottet, who has never shied from criticising Council, said taxes only increase when governments mismanage money.

“Now you have Council increasing rates by 9.5 percent - that’s not a nibble around the edges, that’s a big bite,” Mr Perrottet said in a prepared statement.

“Hawkesbury City Council fought the council amalgamation process, arguing they were financially fit.

“Now, at the first opportunity, they’ve fought to take more than $100 a year on average out of the back pockets of residents.”

Mr Perrottet said Council ought to be reducing rates or reduce its spending.

“The Council should be looking to drive efficiencies rather that increase taxes. The NSW Government is leading by example. We have delivered $3.5 billion in tax cuts in the last two year alone,” he said.

“I want to see the Council working for the people of Hawkesbury and not the other way around.”

Mayor Lyons-Buckett, in a prepared statement, said Mr Perrottet was unaware of the financial constraints Council was working under.

“It is unfortunate that Mr Perrottet declined to accept offers to meet with Council and receive a detailed briefing regarding the details of Council’s Special Rate Application to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal,” she said.

Member for Hawkesbury Dominic Perrottet has never been shy to express his opinion when it comes to Hawkesbury Council's finances. Picture: Geoff Jones

Member for Hawkesbury Dominic Perrottet has never been shy to express his opinion when it comes to Hawkesbury Council's finances. Picture: Geoff Jones

The Mayor went on further, and said Hawkesbury Council had for many years undertaken efficiency measures, citing a number of savings and efficiencies made over the years, all of which IPART agreed with. 

“IPART Hawkesbury Council’s average residential rates were 11 per cent lower than its fellow Group 6 Councils – Camden and Wollondilly, and 8 per cent lower than the average of its two neighbouring Councils – The Hills and Blue Mountains,” she said.

“The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s approval of Hawkesbury City Council’s Special Rate Application is an official acknowledgement of Council’s sound financial management and its long term financial planning.”