RATEPAYERS in Uralla Shire Council could face a rate hike of more than 54 per cent in the next financial year.
The council will run out of cash if a substantial change isn’t made, a Morrison Low financial forecast reveals, and councillors will vote on Thursday to take the rate increase to community consultation.
By 2020 the council’s unrestricted cash reserves are expected to fall into the red, with the council then failing many of the Office of Local Government performance measures.
The rate increase would run over four years starting on July 1 2019, otherwise council is considering a 37 per cent rate peg with a full cost recovery of user fees and charges and cuts to spending.
Without the hike, council will no longer be able to provide current service levels and assets will deteriorate.
In 2015 Uralla council narrowly escaped a forced merger with neighbouring councils and residents were surveyed about their willingness to accept some form of special rate variation.
Nearly 100 per cent agreed to a 10 to 20 per cent rate rise in the name of staying independent.
The Morrison Low review revealed council will fail to meet performance benchmarks over a 10 year period, operating at an 8.6 per cent deficit each year, losing $623,000 annually.
In one scenario, cost cutting measures include reducing councillor numbers to seven, closing the Bundarra library, reducing maintenance to nature strips and the frequency of the newsletter.
Opening hours at the Waste Management Centre would have to be limited and fees and charges increased to match service delivery.
Council will vote to take the rate increase to public consultation on Thursday.