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Port Stephens residents to face rate rise

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Port Stephens residents will take a hit in the back pocket after IPART approved council’s application for a Special Rate Variation (SRV).

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) agreed to a SRV of 9.5% annually for the next three years, coming into effect from 1 July.

Port Stephens mayor Ryan Palmer acknowledged, that although IPART deemed the rate variation as reasonable, there were some in the community who would find the increase “particularly tough”.

“Alongside IPART’s approval, we’re scheduled to adopt additional affordability measures as part of the Hardship Policy, at the end of the month,” he said.

“They will help the most vulnerable and give more relief to ratepayers including pensioners who are experiencing financial adversity.

“We have more work to do.

“But, the decision from IPART is a milestone achievement to ensure the long-term sustainability of our council.

“I want to thank our community, councillors and staff for working together on our securing our funded future.”

Council’s general manager Tim Crosdale said the IPART outcome followed extensive engagement with locals over the past 12 months.

“Primarily, it’s focussed on the ongoing financial sustainability of council,” he explained.

“The approved SRV will reduce projected budget shortfalls and ensure services across Port Stephens can be retained.

“From 2024/25, the community will also see additional funding for the delivery of road repairs along with improvements to public spaces and the natural environment.

“As part of the application for the SRV, council worked closely with residents to understand their priorities for the future.

“The success of this engagement has been recognised by IPART and we can now move forward and work toward balancing the needs of our community with our long-term financial sustainability.

“We’ll focus on refining our level of service to meet expectations, continue our service review program to drive efficiencies and implement all of the measures we identified for our financial future with the community.

“This includes reviewing our fees and charges, continuing to roll out smart parking and asset sales, and actively seeking state and federal grant funding.”

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