Con­tri­bu­tion sys­tem for de­vel­op­ers is ‘to­tally bro­ken’, Mayor tells meet­ing

Dubbo Photo News - - News - By YVETTE AUBUSSON-FO­LEY

MAYOR Ben Shields has called for wa­ter and sew­er­age de­vel­oper con­tri­bu­tions to be re­formed, cit­ing the ex­am­ple of a Vic­to­ria Street carwash de­vel­oper who had ini­tially been told his Coun­cil con­tri­bu­tion would be $325,000.

Speak­ing for the de­vel­oper at last week’s monthly meet­ing of Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil, John Cook ac­knowl­edged that con­tri­bu­tions from de­vel­op­ers to help cover the cost to Coun­cil of their devel­op­ments are un­der­stand­able, but that the $325,000 in this par­tic­u­lar case was too high.

Ac­cord­ing to his own cal­cu­la­tions, the pro­posed four-bay carwash would nor­mally at­tract a $16,914.32 wa­ter con­tri­bu­tion com­pared to Coun­cil’s ex­pec­ta­tion of $124,571.74.

“One of the coun­cil staff came into my of­fice to try and ex­plain that to me. I’m a bit sim­ple when it comes to maths. I only did three years of maths at univer­sity, maybe I should have done four, I don’t know,” he said to Coun­cil dur­ing pub­lic fo­rum at the meet­ing.

“He said he’d email them to me, but I didn’t re­ceive them, so I still don’t know what fig­ures are be­ing worked on,” Mr Cook said.

Af­ter a re­view of the to­tal $325,255.85 (2018/2019 fi­nan­cial year fig­ures), Coun­cil re­vised the combined wa­ter and sewer con­tri­bu­tions to $90,336.60.

“I talked to my client and even at $90,000 the de­vel­op­ment won’t pro­ceed. It’s as sim­ple as that,” Mr Cook told Coun­cil.

Cr Anne Jones, who is an ac­coun­tant, said that she found it dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand the fig­ures and the ar­gu­ments that are be­ing put for­ward to Mr Cook.

“I have tried and tried and tried to rec­on­cile in re­la­tion to that. On that ba­sis, be­cause of that I won’t be sup­port­ing the rec­om­men­da­tion of $90,336.60,” Cr Jones said. Cr Ryan agreed.

“I can’t get to the bot­tom of this one and it con­cerns me when some­thing is so dif­fi­cult on the sur­face of it, should ap­pear to me to be far sim­pler,” Cr John Ryan said.

Mayor Ben Shields pro­posed a re­view of the sys­tem.

“What this says to me coun­cil­lors, is that the con­tri­bu­tion plans and the way we gen­er­ate rev­enue from de­vel­op­ers, I be­lieve, is bro­ken – to­tally bro­ken. I think this coun­cil is right to go down the path of re­build­ing the con­tri­bu­tions plan.

“Coun­cil­lor Jones is ab­so­lutely right. It is very, very hard to un­der­stand. It is ex­tremely com­pli­cated. It does have the po­ten­tial to con­fuse too many peo­ple, and in a lot of the cases it could be seen as be­ing un­fair.

“We’ve got to get this right. I do look for­ward to hav­ing a re­view of the con­tri­bu­tions poli­cies,” he said.

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