WAGGA City Council is confident its future plans will be unfazed by next financial year's rate peg.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal yesterday announced council's general income, which includes rates revenue, will be capped at 2.6 per cent in 2020/21. It is a slight reduction on the current financial year by point one percent.
Wagga City Council's corporate services director Natalie Te Pohe said the council's 2020/21 Budget could have a "slight improvement to the bottom line" following its conservative approach to forward planning.
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"We as a council have conservatively budgeted a rate peg of 2.5 per cent. So there's a slight improvement by about $43,000, but that will depend on the modelling undertaken," she said.
"Realistically, we would have loved the rate peg to be higher and reflect a regional perspective. Unfortunately, IPART has set it at 2.6 per cent and we need to manage in that boundary."
Ratepayers will still be required to pay a special rate variation for the flood levee upgrade, in addition to ordinary rates. Any further variations will come down to the 2020/21 Budget conversations, which Mrs Te Pohe said are yet to happen. Based on previous years, she said councillors "have not been keen" on adding to the existing special rate variation.
Mrs Te Pohe said the council will recommend a rates increase by the cap, however it was ultimately the councillors' decision.
Acting deputy mayor Rod Kendall is positive that the city's major projects and services will be delivered under the adjusted rate peg. But, he does not agree with the "one-size fits all model".
"I think personally the rate pegging model should have two or three options to separate councils that have significant levels of external access income," he said. "Some councils will really struggle with their finances, particularly councils that have limited, or no source of other income.
"In Wagga's case that rate peg is consistent with what we have allowed for in our forward estimates."
The council's Long Term Financial Plan has a projected deficit for the upcoming financial period, which Cr Kendall said will remain unless unexpected income becomes available via government streams.
"For the last couple of years, to the credit of both state and federal governments, there has been additional external funding, but it would be far better if local government could be put in a position where it could rely on its income rather than have its year-by-year grants that aren't guaranteed," he said.
"The delivery of major projects and services won't be affected by the rate peg. What could have an affect is if funding starts to dry up."