Landowners in the Hilltops would have recently received their 2021/2022 rate notice and noticed the effect of rates harmonisation in the general rate.
While there were increases for some and decreases for others, the total general rate yield for Hilltops Council has not increased any more than the amount of the rate peg set by the state government and the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART).
Rates harmonisation only impacted the general rating structure and did not extend to service charges for water, sewer and waste.
Inevitably, there have been increases across the board in the water, sewer and waste charges to meet the demands for reliable water, sewer and waste services and to offset the costs associated with infrastructure renewals and service delivery.
Water and sewer schemes for the three former areas of Boorowa, Harden and Young are self-funded from the respective areas, i.e. water and sewer charges at Boorowa are funding services at Boorowa, water and sewer charges at Harden are funding services at Harden and water and sewer charges at Young are funding services at Young.
Water and sewer undertakings are examples of user pays operations where revenues raised from charges are only to be spent back in the same areas.
This means that water fund money must be spent in water operations and sewer fund money must be spent in sewer operations.
I have no doubt that everyone is well and truly sick of the disruption, personal suffering and economic pain that COVID-19 has brought to Australia.
Sadly, the situation is not one that will fix itself and must be managed in much the same way that Australia successfully removed the threat of polio and so many other terrible diseases from our daily lives.
Like countless others, I honestly believe that vaccination is the way forward and the route back to normality. I urge everyone to consider their own circumstances and those of their immediate family - then either register for vaccination or, at the minimum, talk to your doctor about the risks versus benefits.
The disease is already in regional NSW and is moving with stealth, speed and fatal consequences. The local government elections have been moved back to December 4, 2021, due to COVID-19, this has pushed the whole election timetable back by about eight weeks.
I urge all community members to consider this deferral as an extra opportunity to directly get involved in local government and the broader Hilltops community.
Stay safe, stay well.