NSW council’s $620m budget surplus glut

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More than $620m in development levies has been left unspent by local councils in Sydney, according to new figures compiled by the Property Council of Australia.
Publicly available local government financial statements for the 2007 financial year reveal that funds that should have been spent on infrastructure and community facilities are instead sitting in the bank.
This is the second year in a row that this stockpile has increased.
Ken Morrison, NSW executive director, said that the figures highlighted the lack of accountability in the development levies system.
“Some councils are doing the right thing and spending the money on the facilities they’re suppose to, but many others aren’t. More than half of the unspent funds are being held by just 10 local councils. $620m is a lot of money that can do a lot of good in the community,” Morrison said.
“It’s been paid to councils and is part of the purchase price of new housing and commercial space, yet too often the money isn’t spent. We all know councils are resource constrained, but hoarding money and hiking levies on new housing isn’t the answer.”
Morrison said that this misuse, or “un-use”, of funds, calls for a change in the system.
“These figures certainly justify the state government stepping in to ensure these monies are spent and the amounts collected are fair,” he said.
“The Property Council would support a wholesale reform program to improve the financial viability of local government, including the abolition of rate pegging."

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