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Bland Shire Council is currently seeking feedback from the community on a proposal to improve our local road network through a special rate variation.

Council is proposing a special rate variation (SRV) of 10 per cent per year for the next five years over and above the rate pegging limit (2.4 per cent in 2015-16) set by the State Government.

The proposal will raise an estimated cumulative $11,254,898 over the next five years, including an additional $614,835 in 2016-2017 and an extra $4.12 million per year by 2020-2021 which will be spent exclusively on the local road network.

Council is experiencing a growing gap between the cost of providing services and facilities and the available funding to meet those costs.

Faced with the task of maintaining the second longest road network of any Council in NSW (3237 kilometres), frozen Federal grant funding and a long term “cap” set by the State Government - known as rate pegging - on Council’s ability to increase income from rates to keep pace with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Council is underfunded to be able to meet service levels or community expectations on rural roads in particular.

The SRV will enable Council to meet service levels on all roads.

Prior to formally considering making any formal application to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), Council has put forward two options for the community to consider in relation to an SRV.

Option 1 proposes a rates increase above the rate pegging limit of 10 per cent per year over five years to improve the local road network. This would enable Council services to be maintained and current road infrastructure renewed to a satisfactory level and maintained in that condition. This increase includes the estimated 2.5 per cent rate peg.

Option 2 is to increase rates only by the rate pegging limit set by the State Government each year (approximately 2.5 per cent) which will result in a reduction in service levels and deterioration of Council and community assets.

More detailed information about the proposal is available in the “Options to Improve Our Road Network” guide which will also be posted to every ratepayer in the Bland Shire.

Community members are invited to make a submission in writing to Council regarding the proposal. Written submissions should be signed and addressed to The General Manager, Bland Shire Council, PO Box 21, West Wyalong, NSW, 2671.Submissions close at 4pm on 12 November 2015.

All feedback from the community relating to the SRV proposal will be presented to Council for consideration before it formally considers whether to apply to IPART for a SRV in December.

Any enquiries regarding the proposal should be directed to Council during business hours on 69722266.