- A freeze on prices for user fees and charges including, the annual Domestic Waste Management and Stormwater charges.
- Primary inspection fees for food premises, personal grooming businesses and boarding houses will be waived during 2020-2021.
- Offer for community and commercial tenants to defer rental payments for 90 days, with an extension of rental payment deferral beyond 90 days.
- Creative Wollongong Quick Response Grants targeted at individual artists or arts organisations who have been impacted by cancellations and/or lost opportunities due to COVID-19.
- Additional investment in information technology, Wi-Fi and security and increased communication capability across public buildings and areas.
- A proposal to increase investment in City Centre activation and marketing activities to support economic recovery. Over the next four years, this will deliver additional investment in our region of over $2.3 million.
What is the Draft Delivery Program 2018-2022 and Operational Plan?
The draft Plans detail Council’s plan around our services, activities and budget. They set out what projects, initiatives and services we’re committed to delivering, and how they will be paid for. They’re part of a suite of plans which include the:
· Draft Delivery Program 2018-2022 and Operational Plan 2020-2021
· Attachment 1: Draft Operational and Capital Budget 20120-2022
· Attachment 2: Draft Infrastructure Delivery Program 2020-2023
· Attachment 3: Draft Revenue Policy Fees and Charges 2020-2021
Copies of the draft documents can be viewed on Council’s Have Your Say Page https://our.wollongong.nsw.gov.au/draft-delivery-program-201822-and-operational-plan-202021
These Plans take into account the impact of the Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic and propose a range of measures to support our community during this unprecedented time.
Actions and services that have been temporarily impacted by COVID-19 are highlighted throughout the draft documents.
What are the key projects Council is proposing to deliver?
We have an important role to play in supporting our community during this difficult time. The draft Infrastructure Delivery Program proposes to invest more than $800 million in the maintenance, operation and construction of infrastructure across the Local Government Area.
Across the next four years, Council will maintain its strong investment in new footpaths across the city, starting work on new stages of Grand Pacific Walk and the first stage of the Cringila Hills Masterplan. We will continue to plan for major new facilities, including new libraries and community centres at Warrawong and Helensburgh, and upgrades to the Beaton Park Leisure Centre.
Council’s annual investment in infrastructure will continue to provide employment opportunities to local contractors, suppliers and businesses.
Why does Council collect rates and how are the rates determined?
Council is obligated by the Local Government Act 1993 to collect rates from all property owners in our city, and these funds are used to finance Wollongong’s varied services, facilities and infrastructure. While we also collect income from other sources such as ‘user pays’ for services and facilities, and our commercial businesses, rates are Council’s largest and most important source of revenue.
Every three years, all rateable land within Council’s Local Government Area undergoes a compulsory, independent revaluation by the NSW Valuer General. These land values provide the basis for how rates are determined, along with the permissible rate Council can increase its total rate income over the previous year, set by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). For the 2020-2021 financial year, Council will use new values from July 2019 to calculate the rates and will increase total rate income by the IPART recommendation of 2.6 percent from the previous year.
Changes to land values through the revaluation process does not increase or decrease the total rate income available to Council – the process redistributes how much rates are collected from each category (e.g. residential, business, farmland etc.). The maximum rate recommended by the State Government (IPART) determines the total increase of rate income, not the revaluation. While the total income Council collects doesn’t change from revaluations, individual ratepayers however, may find their rates have increased more than the maximum % (in this case 2.6%) or in some cases, actually decrease due to individual changes to their land values. Individual assessments or rate bills, change relative to the average change in land value within a rate category. For example, if an individual parcel of residential land has increased more than the average for all residential land in the LGA, the rates will increase (in addition to the 2.6% rate increase).
How much are my rates increasing?
The plan includes a proposed rate increase of 2.6 percent in keeping with the IPART rate peg based on the assessment of increase costs for Local Government.
Council remains committed to financial sustainability and the continued maintenance of assets and provision of services. The increase will be increasing the average residential property rate by about $5 a month and provide Council with an additional $4.5M to maintain our assets and operations that are an important part of the local economy.
Some residents may see changes to their rates notice based on the most recent land valuation.
What is Council doing to reduce the financial impact of rates?
Council has approved a broad financial relief in response to COVID-19 by allowing ratepayers, who consider themselves unable to pay their fourth quarter 2019-20 rates, a deferral of all rates payments without the burden of any additional interest charge until September 2020. Council will allow the fourth quarter 2019-20 deferred payment to be repaid in equal amounts over the four instalments in 2020-21 to decrease the initial burden during the anticipated recovery phase.
In addition, Wollongong City Council has an existing Debt Recovery and Hardship Assistance Policy which provides a range of support actions for those in financial distress.
How is Council assisting the community and businesses in response to COVID-19?
Council has proposed initiatives to reduce the financial impact on the community during the COVID-19 recovery:
Council will continue to use the Hardship Policy to waive or reduce charges under specific circumstances.
Should I let family and friends or interested community members know about the draft plans?
Yes. Due to the current social distancing laws in place due to COVID-19, we’re unable to use some of the usual engagement approaches. While we are exploring new ways to engage with our community, we encourage people to forward the information on via email or message the weblink to family and friends wherever possible. This will give more community members the opportunity to have a say about the draft Plans.
How can I give feedback on the draft plans?
There are a number of ways to give feedback on the draft plans including:
Phone: (02) 4227 7111
Making a Submission by completing the Submission form on this webpage.
Feedback can be provided to Council during the public exhibition period 13 May 2020 to 9 June 2020.
Your submission is used by Council to assist in its decision-making processes. All feedback will be considered in the finalisation of the plans. All comments will be summarised and provided to Council with the final report.