Rate rise for Port Stephens residents

Port Stephens Council has been successful in its application for a special rate variation – which means residents bills are set to further increase.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has approved the rate rise, along with 17 other Councils across the state..

It means the average residential rate of $403 will increase by 9.5 per cent each year for three years, which will see a yearly increase of $126 over that time.

Every year, IPART decides a rate peg for each Council in NSW which sets the maximum amount Councils can increase the general income they collect from ratepayers. For 2023/24 IPART set the base at 3.7 per cent, but there is also an allowance for the level of population growth meaning some councils have rate pegs up to 6.8 per cent.

If the elected councillors agree that a council needs additional revenue, the council can apply to IPART for a special variation to increase rates income by more than the rate peg.

“Many stakeholders expressed concerns about the special variation process during our recent review of the rate peg methodology,” said IPART Chair Carmel Donnelly.

“We also received over 1800 submissions about these 17 special variation applications, including from people who raised broader issues about the financial model for councils.”

IPART is required to assess special variation applications against criteria set by the Office of Local Government. 

“We considered everything raised in submissions including the impact of rates increases on ratepayers given current cost of living pressures,” said Ms Donnelly. “We also considered the impact on communities if councils were unable to deliver services that people depend on.”

Port Stephens Council unanimously endorsed applying for that figure at a meeting in November.

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