Sydney Councils fear for the future of community infrastructure as the NSW Government proposes the removal of developer paid taxes, leaving the costs to ratepayers.
Councils use developer contributions paid from large-scale projects to fund local sporting infrastructure, libraries, swimming pools and other council-led upgrades.
However, there are concerns that increasing ratepayer’s taxes will not be sufficient for the cost of local community initiatives.
Councils expect to face financial losses and depletion of community projects that will affect scheduled initiatives relying on developer taxes.
Mayor of Waverley Paula Masselos predicts that Waverley Council will lose millions with the amendment of developer contributions.
“[This] would have a serious impact upon the amenity of our local government area,” Massselos told City Hub.
“Developer contributions ensure that councils can upgrade … important infrastructure and continue to provide a liveable place for our communities.”
Masselos also raised issues with the bill’s removal of ‘non-essential’ community infrastructure from the allocation of funds.
“[Waverley Council] regard open space, recreational and community facilities as being very much essential,” she said.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore recognised the benefits of the existing developer contribution tax in funding the Green Square development.
“The massive $13 billion of private investment in the redevelopment of Green Square was underpinned by $1.3 billion of local infrastructure and community facilities – funded by the City and developers,” Moore told City Hub.
“Had this Bill been in place… ratepayers would have been required to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in extra rates.”
Moore says the Bill will also impact Pyrmont’s future development proposal, largely endorsed by the State Government.
“The City will need the developer contributions to provide the infrastructure that will make that place work,” she stated.
City of Sydney Labor Councillor Linda Scott says developer payments are ‘critical’ for councils.
“These contributions help fund vital infrastructure to support population growth in communities, including footpaths, cycleways, parks and open space to help cope with the increased demand new development brings,” Scott said.
Masselos raised concern that the State Government’s proposal was largely swept under the radar, saying that Waverley Council felt unprepared for the Friday 11 July submissions deadline date.
“The complexity of the draft Bill and the impossible deadline has left Council with little time to properly interrogate the draft Bill,” said Masselos.
Scott also mentioned the State Government’s failure to consult with Councils and residents.
“I was surprised the NSW Government tried to push through changes that would result in potential deferral and reductions of these payments without even consulting councils and their communities,” Scott said.