WA councils accused of building stash
Perth councils have been accused of squirrelling away more than $1 billion in infrastructure money.
Reports says money collected from developers to fund facilities associated with greenfield or infill developments (including footpaths, childcare centres, sporting facilities and carparks) is sitting in bank accounts partly because there is no set timeframe for it to be spent.
WA property development lobby the Urban Development Institute of Australia wants councils to be made to spend the money more quickly.
UDIA WA chief executive Allison Hailes said the developer contributions come from house prices, so the money effectively comes from homebuyers.
“They deserve — and in fact have paid for — facilities and infrastructure that simply aren’t being provided in a timely manner,” she told News Corp reporters.
“One of the main issues here is that there is no set timeframe ... set out in policy that regulates when money should be spent after it has been collected.”
The UDIA reviewed figures from seven metropolitan councils that publicly report financials and used information from developers to come to the $1 billion figure.
But the councils dispute the figures and say the seven councils collectively sit on closer to $300 million.
The councils’ delays in spending the money come from a range of factors including the availability of land, population growth and regulatory requirements.
They say the unspent funds are earmarked for future projects, but interest earned could not be used for other purposes.
Planning Minister Rita Saffioti says WA’s planning reform team has been asked to consider improvements to the schemes.