Sydney mayors warn rates will rise if developer levies changed Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content

Source
By Matt O'Sullivan

Almost two dozen Sydney mayors from across the political divide have joined forces to campaign against a shake-up of developer levies, arguing it threatens their ability to build new community facilities and will force them to raise rates.

Five of the mayors, including the City of Sydney’s Clover Moore and Willoughby’s Gail Giles-Gidney, will meet Planning Minister Rob Stokes on Friday and demand the government abandon the proposed changes.

Councils such as Woollahra, which manages Murray Rose Pool, fear the changes will deprive them of funding.

Councils such as Woollahra, which manages Murray Rose Pool, fear the changes will deprive them of funding.Credit:James Alcock

While the majority are controlled by Labor or independents, the 23 councils which have signed up to the campaign include Liberal-dominated local governments such as Woollahra and Hawkesbury.

The councils argue that the government is attempting to take up to half of the money they raise through developer contributions, which is used to help pay for playgrounds, sports fields and other facilities.

Woollahra Liberal mayor Susan Wynne said her council would be $15.4 million short over a decade if it lost 50 per cent of the developer levies it collects.

And she warned that a 32 per cent rise in rates over a decade would be needed to recoup the funding. “There is absolutely no question that we would have to put up rates,” she said. “People don’t realise this is the money that goes into community facilities, park upgrades and tree plantings.”

Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore is fighting plans to overhaul developer levies.

Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore is fighting plans to overhaul developer levies.Credit:Steven Siewert

Cr Wynne said the proposed changes would compound the financial challenges facing councils from the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have already taken a hit. It is probably the worst time to be taking money away from us,” she said.

About 20 of the councils behind the campaign have chipped in several thousand dollars each for full-page ads in the Herald and the Daily Telegraph on Thursday highlighting their concerns.

The campaign comes a month after a NSW upper house committee called for a halt to new laws until the full extent of the proposed overhaul of developer contributions has been fleshed out.

Mr Stokes, who needs the support of Labor or minor parties in the upper house to pass the laws, said it was disappointing that the councils had chosen to “mislead their communities” in the lead up to council elections in December.

“Everyone, including councils, agrees that the current system is broken,” he said. “Residents don’t care what level of government manages the contribution funds. All they care about is that the right infrastructure is delivered in the right place, at the right time.”

NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes.

NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes.Credit:Louise Kennerley

Mr Stokes said it was ironic that the councils were using ratepayers’ funds to protest that they would not have enough money to spend on infrastructure.

However, Cr Moore said the government was leaving councils an “impossible choice” to stop delivering quality community infrastructure, or hike residents’ rates to cover the cost.

“These changes will have far-reaching consequences, eroding local government autonomy and most importantly, eroding the living conditions and amenity of all our communities,” she said.

Councils fear that the plans to pool developer contributions into regional funds gives no guarantees the money will be funnelled back into projects in areas where they were collected. They are also concerned that the plans will reduce the type of community projects eligible for funding, and afford the Planning Minister too much discretion.

Hornsby Council is among about 10 metropolitan councils that have not signed up to the campaign. They have, instead, raised concerns directly with NSW ministers, such as Matt Kean, the MP for Hornsby.

Hornsby mayor and Liberal Party elder Philip Ruddock said his council had agreed to approach the government directly about the need for developer contributions to remain so that it could meet population targets set by the state.

“Clover Moore is running a more vigorous public campaign, and we elected not to be part of that,” said Cr Ruddock, who was endorsed on Wednesday as the Liberal Party’s mayoral candidate for the council elections in December. “We have views, and we have elected to put those views.”

Local Government NSW president Linda Scott said the state government’s “dangerous legislation” would break the back of councils and cost communities.

“It’s not right for a development in Darlinghurst to fund a school in Dubbo. NSW communities expect transparency over developer contributions, not a system hidden in a maze of regulation away from the public,” she said.

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.

Labor’s Porter rival ‘vindicated’ after council bullying claims dismissed Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content
Nine upfront 2022: Network pins hopes on snack food, crime and moving to the country Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content
Spring racing carnival: Champion jockey Jamie Kah faces extra ban as Airbnb fallout continues Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content
NRL 2021: Penrith Panthers forward Scott Sorensen firming for swift finals return against Parramatta Eels despite waiting almost 24 hours for dislocated wrist to be fixed Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad conte
Australia’s medical regulator accuses Craig Kelly of copyright breach Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content
Australia’s $55 billion new tech giant teaches old corporates a lesson Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content
Former EISS boss blames ‘calculated smear campaign’ for resignation Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content
‘We are not an LGA of anti-vaxxers’: Sydney and Randwick fall behind Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content
Mortgage battleground switches to variable rates Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content Loading 3rd party ad content
The 20 saddest songs to let you wallow in your sorrow