$96m in developer contributions fund unallocated

Developer contributions must be used on related projects. Image Archive Wyong Shire Council 2015Developer contributions must be used on related projects. Image Archive Wyong Shire Council 2015. Archive image 2015

The majority of Council’s capital works projects were on schedule as at August 31, with a planned investment of over $199m in the 2018-19 financial year.

Some of Council’s capital works projects include 574 roads and drainage projects, 61 open space and recreation projects, and 40 projects to enhance our natural and environmental assets. Mayor, Jane Smith, said Council’s signifi cant capital works program spanned the Central Coast’s road network, water and sewer services, the local environment, community facilities, and open and recreation spaces. “Delivering our capital works program is an important part of our contract with the Central Coast Community and we are on-track to deliver.” Council invested over $170m in capital works projects across the Central Coast in the 2017-18 financial year. Councillor, Rebecca Gale Collins, questioned why Central Coast Council had a balance of $103.12m in its developer contribution fund, but had only allocated $7m for expenditure in 2018- 19.

“That leaves $96m just sitting in that developer contributions fund,” she said.

“I would like to request that Council operation staff reasonably look to spend that $96m to benefi t the community. “It would be great to see more of these dollars in the developer contribution funds spent on our much-needed roads, drainage and parks across the Central Coast. “These funds could be used to help ease our $120m infrastructure backlog. “Roads and drainage are one of the key priority focuses for Central Coast Council. “Of the 574 roads and drainage projects due for completion this fi nancial year, we have only completed 18 projects and commenced 20, according to the Capital Works Program, in the fi rst two months of the fi nancial year. “So, we are behind in projects already, and we have underspent $2.2m in that period. “It is imperative that this Council achieve the completion of these road and drainage projects to budget, on behalf of our Central Coast ratepayers. “It’s what our ratepayers expect of Central Coast Council.”

The status of the Council’s developer contribution funds was revealed in an answer to a question on notice by, Clr Gale Gollins. According to Council staff, the total developer contributions’ balance, excluding amounts received from Voluntary Planning Agreements (VPAs), was $103,122,565, as of June 30. The balance from the former Wyong Council was $61.9m (excluding VPAs) while the former Gosford Council’s balance was $41.2m. Both balances have more than doubled since the amalgamation in May, 2016, but expenditure from the contributions has not increased at all. At the Monday, September 24 Council meeting, Director, Scott Cox, said there were limitations on the use of developer contributions. They could only be spent on projects related to the specifi c development. Executive Manager of Governance, Brian Glendenning, added that it was possible to internally borrow from developer contributions paid for a particular project to fund a similar project, but the funds could not be allocated for projects that were not related to developments.

“My concern is that on average, we should be completing 95 projects every two months. “Can the CEO please work closely with the Director to ensure he has the manpower (employees, contractors and subcontractors) to deliver these key 574 projects this fi nancial year?,” Councillor, Rebecca Gale Collins, said.

Source: Agenda items 5.3 and 6.1, Sep 24 Central Coast Council ordinary meeting Media release, Sep 24 Rebecca Gale Collins, Central Coast Council Media release, Sep 24 Central Coast Council media Jackie Pearson, journalist