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Council to hike rates and charges in 2023/2024 as it spends $170m

Jul 3, 2023

Michael Sainsbury

Hawkesbury residents will pay between 3.5% and 14% more in the 2023-2024 financial year for Council services. Hawkesbury City Council has approved hiking charges across all its rate categories including sewerage, land rates and waste management as part of its 2023/2024 Operational Plan and Budget passed at last week’s meeting.

The increases come as the NSW Local Government Minister Ron Hoenig today said the state government was in the process of developing terms of reference for funding for local government. The commitment fulfils one of the government’s election promises.

The Hawkesbury City Council adopted the Plan at last week’s meeting which will see it spend $170 million this year. Along with rate hikes the cost of most council services have risen except those for development application fees  which remain unchanged although building construction certificates costs have risen. This is unusual as a reasonable proportion of the increased waste, drainage and deteriorating road conditions are due to an upswing in development.

Waste management rates will rise 9.95% outstripping inflation and adding to the burden of families and local businesses struggling with the rising cost of living and a series of interest rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

As revealed exclusively in the Hawkesbury Post rates for sewerage provided by HCC will jump 14% after a $35.1 million loan was taken out by HCC last September to cover the dramatic blowout in costs of the sewerage repair pipe from an initial $2 million to as much as $42 million in September last year. The loan amount is about 20% of the Council’s annual budget.

Funding is being sought from the state government to cover this but has not yet been assured. These discussions continue amid what the Hawkesbury Post understands are ongoing talks with Macquarie Street about the acquisition of The HCC’s expensive stand alone sewerage system by Sydney Water. The HCC is the only council in the Sydney basin to operate its own sewerage system.

The council has also signaled that it will borrowing a further $7million via an external loan in to bring forward “needed infrastructure renewal works”. It said that the loan will be secured by Council’s income “in accordance with Clause 23 of the Local Government (General) Regulation, 2021.”

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal has determined the general rate pegging amount for 2023/2024 is 3.7%, including 0% population growth factor. For 2023/2024 Sullage charges have been increased by 3.5%. The Drainage Management charge has been increased from $30 to $100. It has also increased a wide range of fees for pet registration, companion animals and impounding dogs and cats as well as food and health inspections for businesses and the hire of a range of council owned premises.

Key HCC initiatives will include a continued focus on flood recovery works across the Hawkesbury future planning, and early commencement of the WestInvest projects as well as continuing to provide quality services for the community including amenities improvements, road upgrades and library purchases.

Some of the spending highlights include:

  • $65.6 million on improving local roads and drainage
  • $27.9 million on upgrading public spaces, parks, sports and recreation
  • $25.9 million on community and culture including community buildings, events, libraries, gallery and museum
  • $37.8 million to be spent on waste collection, landfill, and sewer
  • $4.9 million for corporate services (running the Council)

The HCC main sources of income are:

  • $76.7 million from rates and annual charges 
  • $9.2 million from user charges and fees 
  • $49.7 million from grants and contributions 
  • $1.7 million from the sale of assets

Under the Westinvest program signed off by the previous state government in 2022, the HCC will receive $80 million. Key projects are Rickaby’s Creek Bridge Cycleway, Kurrajong To Kurmond Cycleway, Delivery Tamplin Field Hobartville Redevelopment Oasis Aquatic And Fitness Centre Improvements, Richmond Swimming Centre Upgrade, Woodbury Reserve Glossodia Upgrade Fernadell Park Pitt Town And Community Facility Redevelopment and Discovering Hawkesbury Wayfinding And Signage.

There is also widespread community discontent over the HCC’s handling of road repairs with ongoing complaints on social media about poor quality repairs.

The HCC Operational Plan and budget is available to view on its website.

 

 

 

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