Monday, April 22, 2024

Waverley continues to press infrastructure Bill opposition

Waverley Council says it will continue to seek assurances from the NSW Government that councils and communities will not be left worse off by the government’s infrastructure contributions reform agenda.

The Council is opposed to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill 2021 in its current form and has welcomed the government’s recent decision to withdraw the Bill from parliament and release it for consultation.

The Bill proposes to change the way development contributions are paid with the state government taking these funds from Councils to use them elsewhere.

Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos, says developer levies should be spent where they are raised and wants the government to consult councils before making changes to the Bill.

“This proposed levy change could have a detrimental impact on our community if funds raised in Waverley are diverted elsewhere at the government’s discretion,” Mayor Masselos said.

“This could result in the delay or removal of projects from council’s plans creating a significant shortfall in local infrastructure. This is another example of the state government cost shifting on to our rate payers. And it is unacceptable.

LGNSW, the peak local government body, has found that small LGAs could lose about $3 million per year while more than $1 billion could be lost for large government areas. Waverley Council stands to lose up to $40 million over the next 10 years if the Bill is adopted in its current form.

In July this year, Local Government NSW made a draft submission into the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Bill, which was introduced into NSW Parliament with the NSW Budget.

In its submission, LGNSW said: ‘Councils have led their communities through the previous 18 month’s raft of disasters, headlined by the COVID pandemic. Ensuring councils have access to ongoing funding through infrastructure contributions will empower councils to drive a locally led economic recovery and help them create tens of thousands of new jobs for their communities’.

“This resonates with us at Waverley, given we are one of the most densely-populated local government areas in Australia and have been a focus of much of the pandemic,” Mayor Masselos said.

“We also share the view held by Local Government NSW that councils need clarity on the many aspects of the Bill and the regulatory changes that will follow, which are currently unknown.

“Of significant concern is that the state government is proposing that these contributions are to be paid after the development has been built. This exposes Council to a great risk of default by developers, meaning we may never see the money

Worse still, Councils will be dictated to on what and how they can spend local contributions by unelected government bodies, the Mayor said. The state government has initiated a separate process for IPART to review the essential works list and benchmark the costs for those particular works.

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