Ballarat City Council has assured community feedback will be sought before the new rate cap increase is applied.
It comes as the Essential Services Commission lifts the maximum rise councils can apply to rates to 3.5%; it was 1.75% – the number Ballarat City Council had budgeted on for the upcoming year.
Council has some major redevelopment programs needing (financial) attention this year, including the Airport, the library, Bakery Hill, the Bridge Mall as well as Her Majesty’s Theatre.
The Essential Services Commission initially recommended a 4% rate rise cap, in line with the State Government’s current forecast for inflation; however the Andrews Labor Government landed on the 3.5% figure due to the current impact on ratepayers.
Acting City of Ballarat CEO John Hausler says workshops will soon be held with Ballarat City councillors to itemise what they want to include in the 2023/24 budget.
“That will help guide exactly what level of rates will be set, and then around about April this year we go out to the community and say ‘hey this is the budget’…and then we invite community consultation.”
From that time, residents will then have around a month to consult on the upcoming budget.
As to whether Council would consider NOT passing on the full rate cap to residents in light the cost of living pressures, Hausler said it depends on the outcome of the upcoming councillor budget consultations.
“It really all depends what level of projects Council wants to put in the budget and what it wants to achieve for the community.
And I guess the other we have to take into account is inflation has been really high for the last 12 months at 7.5% and Council is subject to cost pressure rises too. So getting that balance right will be tricky, but that’s why we spend so much time with councillors in workshops” Hausler said.