Councils Hoarding Cash

New research by the Property Council of Australia shows the Hunter’s “Big-5” councils are hoarding over $192 million in cash earmarked for local community infrastructure like cycleways and sporting grounds. The figure is revealed in the Property Council’s latest audit of section 94 infrastructure levies.

Hunter Director, Andrew Fletcher, said “Across the Lower Hunter, councils are sitting on nearly $200 million in unspent infrastructure funds.”

“Nearly $50 million worth of levies were raked-in for the year, but less than half that amount was spent.”

 “That improves local government balance sheets, but it robs communities of local infrastructure they need today.”

“With a booming population and a decent regional plan which identifies the emerging strategic centres, now is the time for Council’s to spend.”

“They have an opportunity to get ahead of the infrastructure curve, while the money is in the bank and before the pressure is too great on communities.”

Fletcher also said the NSW Government needed to take a greater leadership role in the debate about who pays for local community infrastructure.

“The last Planning Minister promised we’d have a regional infrastructure plan finalised by now, but we’re yet to see the draft document and 2017 is slipping away.”

Fletcher said the regional infrastructure plan needed to give Hunter Development Corporation the capacity to intervene when local government stalls on infrastructure delivery.

“The Hunter needs policy settings with teeth that compel councils to spend development levies swiftly on the infrastructure they claim it will finance, rather than just hoarding the cash.”

Media contact:Andrew Fletcher | M 0407 410 017 | E afletcher@propertycouncil.com.au