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Community, Local Government

Securing Willoughby’s Future

Willoughby City Council 3 mins read
Chatswood Oval and Chatswood CBD

Community members are being encouraged to have their say on four rate rise options designed to help Willoughby City Council’s financial sustainability and guide its future funding priorities. 

 

Willoughby Mayor Tanya Taylor said the rate rise options responded to Council’s existing and future financial challenges, a growing and changing population and increasing community expectations.

 

“Historically, Council has a good track record delivering strong financial management and high community satisfaction levels with its services, despite having the second lowest average residential rates in Northern Sydney,” Mayor Taylor said.

 

“However, Council has been impacted by recent extraordinary economic events.

 

“For instance, Council lost $20.6 million in revenue during the COVID-19 period, while inflation has increased by 12.1% in the last two years.  At the same time, Council’s average rates have fallen by 3.2%.

 

“Financial forecasts show that, without substantial change, Council may get into financial difficulty by mid-2025.

 

“Our community has also made it clear it wants Council to investigate improving public area maintenance and deliver new community infrastructure.

 

“As a result, the Council is now seeking feedback on four very different rating options which respond to these pressures.

 

“This engagement process represents an historic and important opportunity for the Willoughby community to have its say on Council’s short and long-term future.”

 

The rate rise options are known as: 

  • Reduce Services
  • Maintain Services
  • Increase Services and;
  • Increase Services and Infrastructure. 

 

The Reduce Services option would involve Council undertaking widespread service reductions to balance its budget, while at the same time increasing rates from 1 July 2024 in line with the NSW Government rate revenue peg (assumed to be 3.5%). 

 

Council will have limited ability to fund new services or community projects and will be vulnerable to the impact of future financial, climate and growth shocks.

 

The other three options would involve Council applying, to the NSW Government, for a Special Rate Variation (SRV). 

 

The Maintain Services option would see Council maintaining highly valued services at current levels, through a 12% rate rise (including an estimated 8.5% SRV) which would catch-up on inflation losses over the last two years. 

 

Under the Increase Services option, rates would rise by 15% (including an estimated 11.5% SRV) and Council would deliver an additional $2 million a year for public area maintenance.  

 

The Increase Services and Infrastructure option comes with a 20% rate rise (including an estimated 16.5% SRV) and would deliver both the additional $2 million a year in public area maintenance together with the additional benefit of $2.5 million a year for community infrastructure.  

 

The three options which involve a SRV application will also allow Council to collect average annual surpluses of between $4.77m to $5.22m which, subject to financial shocks, could be re-invested in community services and projects.

 

Under the options:

  • Average residential rates would rise between $38 to $218 a year, or between 73 cents to $4.19 a week.
  • Average business rates in the Chatswood Town Centre area would increase by $273 to $1,561 a year, or between $5.25 to $30.01 a week.
  • Average business rates outside the Chatswood Town Centre would increase between $228 and $1,305 a year, or between $4.38 to $25.09 a week.

 

Mayor Taylor said the Council recognised the potential rate rises came at a time when many community members are facing cost of living pressures. 

 

“Given this, Council has committed to continuing its existing work to cut unnecessary costs and find alternate revenue sources to reduce the impact of any special rate rise,” she said.

 

“For instance, all the options seeking a special rate increase include a commitment that Council will find $2m worth of savings and new revenue in 2024/25. Without these commitments, the potential rate increases would be around 3.7% higher.”

 

Community members can have their say by going to www.haveyoursaywilloughby.com.au before 5 November. At this website, community members can:

 

  • Learn more about the proposed rate rise
  • Fill out the online survey or upload a submission
  • Register to attend one of ten engagement events
  • If they have their latest rate notice handy, use an online calculator to calculate their potential rate increase under each option

 

 

Ends

 

For media enquiries please contact:

Public Relations, Willoughby City Council

+61 2 9777 7696

E: public.relations@willoughby.nsw.gov.au

 

 

 

 

 

 


Contact details:

public.relations@willoughby.nsw.gov.au

02 9777 9696

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