PORT Macquarie-Hastings Council has signalled its intention to apply for a special rate variation.
The council will lodge an expression of interest for a special rate variation with the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.
That is ahead of a council decision on future rate levels.
The expression of interest, to be lodged in December, will be about embedding the existing special rate variation into the future.
It is an IPART requirement to lodge an expression of interest but that does not bind the council to a special rate variation application.
Councillors will consider a report in February detailing community engagement and the public submissions in response to the amended delivery program and amended long-term financial plan.
Community members can view the amended documents from November 21 to December 18.
Cr Sharon Griffiths proposed the council not look at an embedded special rate variation into the future but rather for five years.
She said some of the improvements the council had put in place had not been taken into account at this point in time.
Her amendment lapsed for want of a seconder.
Cr Lisa Intemann pointed to the good work being done as a result of the special rate variation.
She said let’s anchor the extra work down.
“We are in a very good position right now but we know we are coming up to a bit more of a difficult financial time in the next couple of years,” she said, given the council’s planned projects.
Cr Geoff Hawkins said the special rate variation was extremely relevant.
“We are dealing with the real world and I think it’s a very well balanced argument, well presented and I am very, very happy to support it,” he said.
A five-year special rate variation has yielded $1.7 million a year to maintain and improve the road network.
That 4.43 per cent special rate variation ends on June 30, 2017.
The council is seeking community input as consultation continues ahead of a rates decision.
Two scenarios are up for discussion.
Under one scenario, there would be no rate rise above the estimated 2.5 per cent rate peg level.
Option two involves a new permanent special rate variation of 3.96 per cent, to maintain the current level of rates and funding for roads, plus the estimated 2.5 per cent rate peg amount.