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