Ratepayers warned State Government cash grab will halve council services

Bin it: Bayside Council is calling on the NSW Government to withdraw legislative changes that will see a halving of developer contributions being spent on local priorities.
Bin it: Bayside Council is calling on the NSW Government to withdraw legislative changes that will see a halving of developer contributions being spent on local priorities.

State Government plans to reduce infrastructure levies on developers will result in an increased financal burden on councils and ratepayers, Bayside Councillor Liz Barlow has warned.

"No one seems to understand the impact this will have on every council in the state," Councillor Barlow said.

The government is proposing key amendments in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill 2021 regarding developer contributions to councils for new infrastructure.

The contributions are used to build roads, footpaths and facilities that are needed as a result of the new development.

The amendments affect developer contributions for proposed new residential apartments.

The government is proposing to reduce the developer contributions to $10,000 per large apartment instead of the current $20,000, and $8000 per apartment where councils are receiving a contribution of $9,000 per one-bed and $12,000 to $15,000 for a two-bedroom and $20,000 for three-bedroom apartments.

And special infrastructure contributions will be taken out of control of the councils and handled by the Treasury for regional distribution.

The State Government wants the changes to operate from July, 2022.

"Unless the government withdraws the legislation we will see a halving of development contributions being spent in Bayside on local priorities," Cr Barlow said.

"The government has run out of money so they are just going to take it from everybody and spend it where they feel like. It really is important that this is stopped. It is robbing Peter to pay Paul.

"Ratepayers should be made aware. They should write to their local MPs and Upper House MPs and express their concerns.

"This is ratepayers' money and it should be spent on them and not in other areas."

Bayside Council will submit a Notice of Motion to the next Local Government NSW Conference seeking the Association to lobby the NSW Government to withdraw the legislative changes.

"The Bill will have serious impacts on the NSW local government communities, such as a loss of parks, playgrounds, footpaths, pools, and our libraries," a council report said.

The submission highlighted a number of issues including the Bill's reliance on rate peg reform to close the funding gap.

"Council's concern is that by reducing the infrastructure contributions for developers and a redirection of this funding source through a rates increase, is shifting the cost of infrastructure from the developer to the existing community," the submission said.

"This approach unfairly burdens existing ratepayers, who will be contribute to the cost of new infrastructure, but will most likely not benefit from the new infrastructure because they do not live nearby. "