There could be a showdown looming between Bathurst Regional Council senior staff and the newly-elected council over the always vexed question of rates.
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As the Western Advocate reported on Monday, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal has capped this year's rate rise for Bathurst at just 0.9 per cent - barely keeping pace with inflation.
For the first time, IPART took population growth into account in determining a figure for each council area but Bathurst's accounting staff have still made it clear they aren't happy with the outcome.
The cause of their concern is the growing infrastructure backlog across the council area, now put at more than $100 million.
Council's recent budgets have all included a warning that action would need to be taken at some point to seek a rate rise above the legislated cap. But if staff want to do that for the 2022-23 financial year then they will have a fight on their hands.
Prior to last month's council election the Western Advocate sent a questionnaire to all lead and solo candidates seeking their views on a range of issues. One of the questions we asked was whether they would support seeking a rise above the rates cap to start tackling the infrastructure backlog - and not one respondent said yes.
Perhaps the most significant response came from Robert Taylor who has now been elected mayor and has the responsibility of leading the new council.
His response was: "Absolutely not. I'd like to see the plan to dispose of underutilised assets and how we capitalise on private investment before we talk about rates. Increasing rates isn't the only thing council can do to boost the bottom line."
He's right, of course, but it's not fair to accuse the council of sitting on its hands when it comes to exploring other money-making initiatives.
Council has been active in the local property development market (and has drawn criticism from some quarters for its involvement) and is constantly on the lookout for ways to squeeze every dollar possible out of Mount Panorama.
But councillors who have gone to the polls with a stated policy of not allowing a rate rise above the IPART cap will hardly want one of their first decisions inside the chamber to go directly against that.
Staff make their recommendations but it's councillors who make decisions. It seems pretty clear where this is headed.
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