Mayors from several New England councils have applauded the state government's decision to give the green light on higher-than-usual rate rises across NSW in 2024/25.
The NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) said on Tuesday that core rate pegs - the maximum amount councils can lift their general income for the year - would increase between 4.5 and 5.5 per cent.
Gunnedah Shire Council was granted a core rate peg of 4.5 per cent, but thanks to the area's rapid population growth the peg was adjusted to 5.6 per cent, the highest in the region.
Gunnedah mayor Jamie Chaffey said the regional council will be looking to make the most of its rate increase to support the town's booming population.
"We do welcome IPART's determination for next year. It's higher than what we'd allowed for in our financial planning, but we're always watching our financial position because that's what we need to do," Cr Chaffey said.
"I don't know a council at the moment that's not under financial stress, that wouldn't be looking to apply the maximum IPART has set."
As Gunnedah's mayor, Cr Chaffey made a commitment not to seek an additional special rate variation above the rate peg, as neighbouring Tamworth Regional Council is currently doing.
"This is one rate peg determination in one year that is the highest we've had for a very long time. That will make a difference, but one year alone will not be enough for many councils," he said.
"It depends on many different factors, unfortunately."
As for Gunnedah, the mayor said he's very proud of the region's growth and how the local council has supported its population boom with infrastructure development to match.
"Housing now, is the big focus. We've got a new housing strategy coming up and we've got companies like Whitehaven Coal which are investing, I believe, something like $7 million into housing for the Gunnedah community," Cr Chaffey said.
Gunnedah isn't the only council in the region that's growing.
The Liverpool Plains Shire Council was also given a bump above the 4.5 per cent core rate peg, meaning ratepayers will likely be charged with a 4.8 per cent increase instead.
Liverpool Plains Shire mayor Doug Hawkins said the bump will help secure the council's position, saving it from the dire financial situation it was in earlier this year.
"On top of our 8 per cent [special rate variation] being made permanent last year, we got everything we asked for. We should be in a good position now," Cr Hawkins said.
"With this one here at 4.8 we're doing well, even with the increasing costs of our roads."
While not every council was given a population-driven rates bump, Walcha mayor Eric Noakes says he's still happy, "more or less," with the 4.5 per cent rate peg IPART set for the small town.
"It's probably still a bit below CPI, but on top of our rate increase we got through IPART I think we can keep going," Cr Noakes said.
Cr Noakes said future rate pegs that stay close to inflation will hopefully be enough to keep the council's head above water.
"When we're only just recouping inflation it's really just more of the same. We don't really have any extra funds from that to increase our road funding, that's where we rely on grants, so if the grants keep up we'll keep moving ahead," he said.
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