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​Sydney metropolitan mayors stand up to State Government cash grab

16 September 2021

23 metropolitan councils have today launched a campaign demanding the NSW Government abandon its plan to divert local government funds into State revenue.

The NSW Government is attempting to take up to half of local government “developer contributions” – the money councils levy developers to help pay for local infrastructure such as playgrounds, sports fields, libraries and parks.

The councils have published an open letter in the Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph, to raise public awareness of the detrimental impact this levy change will have on their communities.

The councils argue that developer levies should be spent where they are raised to ensure new development is accompanied by appropriate investment in the surrounding area. You can read the letter further below.

Lane Cove Mayor Clr Pam Palmer has today said:

"With a growing population in our area, there is increased demand on our public amenities and public services. Currently there is a nexus between that new growth and developer contributions towards funding the extra demands placed on local infrastructure.  This relieves the burden for existing rate payers.  It benefits those new communities. And it makes sure that developers are creating liveable communities supported by appropriate infrastructure.

The existing system is not broken. Now the government is going to take these funds away from local communities.  These are funds that have helped us to improve our local shopping precinct, build a new outdoor pool, increase open space and which will fund a new indoor sports centre.

To ask us to not only accept the government's housing targets, but to also fund the supporting infrastructure that’s required is completely unfair”.

Here is the open letter addressed to the Premier today:

Dear Premier,

As you know, the NSW Government imposes housing targets onto local Councils to accommodate Sydney’s population growth.

And in turn, our communities rely on our Councils to deliver the essential facilities and infrastructure needed to support this growth, and make people’s lives and local environments better.

This infrastructure includes everything from roads and footpaths, to sports fields, parks and netball courts, to playgrounds, pools and libraries.

We can only deliver these facilities because we are able to collect contributions from property developers to help fund them.

However, the changes now being planned by the NSW Government will divert a large proportion of these developer contributions away from Councils and into a Treasury-controlled fund, with no clear accountability or transparency of how it will be spent.

And the Government is proposing Councils raise rates to make up the revenue we are losing.

This breaks the nexus between where contributions are made and where they are spent. This threatens the ability of every Council to deliver much-needed new community facilities, and transfers that burden onto our ratepayers.

Premier, you are forcing us to choose between cancelling projects and raising rates. And this is at a time of pandemic-induced financial hardship for many people in the state.

On behalf of our communities, we urge that you withdraw the changes currently before Parliament.

 

Modelling by the Centre for International Economics (CIE) estimates that the Infrastructure Contributions Bill (2021) would give the NSW Government an additional $793million per year in revenue (averaged over 20 years).

Local Councils will only be able to levy local development for “essential infrastructure” and will be left with shortfalls in funding for playgrounds, open space, sports and community facilities unless they raise rates. This transfers the cost of new Community infrastructure to support new development from the developers to ratepayers.

The 23 signatories are directing communities to visit www.saveourcommunities.com to find out more, and to also voice their concern with local members of Parliament.

The signatories are: Bayside, Blacktown City, Blue Mountains, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury Bankstown, City of Sydney, Cumberland, Hawkesbury, Hunter’s Hill, Inner West, Lane Cove, Liverpool, Mosman, North Sydney, Penrith, Randwick, Ryde, Strathfield, Sutherland Shire, Waverley, Willoughby and Woollahra.