Mayor Jim Simmons said having the SRV would mean council can retain staff and keep up the level of service ratepayers expect.
Mayor Jim Simmons said having the SRV would mean council can retain staff and keep up the level of service ratepayers expect. Caitlan Charles

How the SRV will keep jobs and services intact

CLARENCE Valley ratepayers have avoided massive cuts to services and job losses after IPART approved a special rates variation of 8 per cent, said mayor Jim Simmons.

At 10am yesterday IPART approved Clarence Valley Council's application for an SRV of 8 per cent over three years, which cumulatively adds 26 per cent to the council's base rate.

Cr Simmons said the SRV would be a substantial cost to ratepayers, but said the increase would just bring it into line with rates in neighbouring councils.

"If IPART had not increased approved the SRV then there would be further serious reduction of services provided by council," he said.

"I also note that IPART acknowledged the efficiencies and cost savings that council has put in place."

Cr Debrah Novak who made a submission to IPART opposing an SRV, said while it was disappointing that IPART had decided in favour of the rates rise, it was time to abide by the umpire's decision.

She said people who could not pay the extra rates should contact the council or IPART to negotiate a solution. Councillors who spoke all said voting for an SRV had not been easy.

Cr Karen Toms said council had already made many tough decisions with its efficiency saving, but IPART had found there was a financial need for this rate variation.

"I hope the community will accept the fact that we are being responsible in governing in this council," she said.

She said the decision would move the council forward financially and would continue to provide services its residents had come to cherish.

Two councillors, Greg Clancy and Peter Ellem, who had opposed an SRV during their election campaign, said they had been converted by the weight of evidence provided to them.

"We did look at all other options," Cr Clancy said. "During the election campaign there was talk of a 41 per cent SRV. I didn't support that. I think what we've now got is a reasonable compromise."

<FZ,1,0,24>Cr Arthur Lsyaught praised the work of general manager Ashley Lindsay for his work in securing the SRV.

"For us to be fit for the future ... this is the only way this can occur," he said.

Cr Baker said he had not supported the 41 per cent initial SRV, but was happy with the current figures, which was about "the middle of that".

The IPART report said an SRV was essential if the council was to become sustainable.

"Under the special variation scenario, the council forecasts operating surpluses from 2020-21, growing to 3.1 per cent by 2027-28," it said.

The cumulative value of these forecast surpluses is $6.9 million to 2027-28.

"The improvement in the council's financial sustainability from the additional special variation revenue will allow it to meet the operating performance benchmark by 2020-21 which is the timeframe set by the Office of Local Government's Fit for the Future Reassessment program.

"Without the special variation ... , and assuming the council's expenditure is the same as under the special variation scenario, it forecasts consistent operating deficits."

DEX explains the SRV: Caitlan Charles and Rob Burley from the Daily Examiner explain the Special Rates Variation and what it means for you as a Clarence Valley rate payer.