Increase Rates in Ryde or Services will be cut

Roy Newsome 2

It seems as if Ryde is in a bit of turmoil at the moment, what with Councillor Petch being sacked and other council members being referred to the DPP for other corrupt allegations against them.

Now Acting Ryde General Manager Roy Newsome (pictured above) has issued a warning that if Ryde can’t increase its rates then taxpayers are going to facing a cut in services and we’ll start seeing deterioration in our infrastructure.

So where has this come from? Well it seems to be a bit of a bleak picture from what I can tell. We’re faced with a $69 million infrastructure backlog and an $8.22 million funding shortfall for the renewal of all our assets.

Basically the council want us to come together as a community and support their bid to increase rates above the 2.3% cap that was set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART).

About a week or so ago, all the residents were sent letters to kick-start a two month consultation period and it certainly does paint a bleak picture indeed of Ryde Council’s financial future. If rates remain at their current levels, which is $1,060 for a land value of $687,500 then their financial future is in severe jeopardy according to the letter.

If you did receive your letter, it states “To achieve financial sustainability and manage the community’s infrastructure, we either need to increase our income by increasing rates or reduce expenditure by decreasing the level of services we provide to the community.” They’re also saying that they’ve identified quite a few savings, which won’t have a huge impact on our community, but “the next layer of cuts will have a noticeable impact.”

What they’re saying is that at a 3% increase we’ll see a big impact on services, at a 7% increase things will stay the same, and that at a 12% increase this will allow them to upgrade services. These are quite big increases that we could be facing. At a 7% rise this would raise and extra $9 million and a 12% rise would raise $22 million for the council over the next four years.

Last year a NSW Treasury Corporation report rated Ryde’s financial health as ‘sound’ however they did point out a ‘negative outlook for the future where they would struggle to meet their financial commitments in the future which would potentially deteriorate its capacity. Apparently if rates are increased, the council would need to provide a report with full disclosure of where the money is being spent.

We’re being given three options to choose from in the consultation period; maintain the estimated 3% and we’ll lose services, a 7% rise to maintain services and of course a 12% increase in order for services to be upgraded.

In 2005/06 Ryde Council weren’t given approval to increase rates. The last time any approval was granted was in 1996/97. There’s one thing to remember, they cannot even approach the IPART for permission unless they win our support as a community. I wonder if they’ll be able to get these increases through this time.

What are your thoughts on this situation? Do you support the increase or not? I’d love to hear from you.

William de Ora

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