Griffith council divided over levy stoush

A CONTROVERSIAL levy imposed on major developers has divided a council committee despite heavy campaigning from the business community to have it abolished.

Section 94A requires developers to pay 1 per cent of the total value of their development to council which for an investment of $20 million means a $200,000 up-front payment.

The levy has been blamed by many in the business community for the downturn in local development since it was introduced.

This week's fiery meeting of the Business, Development and Major Projects Management Committee saw members divided over a raft of alternatives to the levy, forcing a stalemate until the next meeting in late January.

However, Griffith City mayor John Dal Broi is anxious a number of developers waiting for an outcome before they launch any new growth will be put off by the wait.

To cover the interim, Cr Dal Broi will introduce a mayoral minute at next week's council meeting to introduce a raft of other options for developers to stimulate more growth until a definite decision is made regarding Section 94A.

"The committee could not reach an agreement so we are in limbo, but I do want it gone," Cr Dal Broi said.

"I've spoken with the executive of Baiada and he said the need for more grower sheds is becoming quite urgent.

"There are other developers who are waiting to see what we're doing to do."

Cr Dal Broi's proposed measures include negotiating with each developer on a case-by-case basis, potentially offering work-in-kind payment, voluntary planning agreements, reducing the percentage of the levy or capping it.

However, Cr Dal Broi said the basis of the levy meant the extra burden of infrastructure imposed by these developments did not have to be covered by ratepayers.

When it was introduced, the levy was expected to reap upwards of $900,000 for council but according to this year's figures, the actual figure was less than a third of that.

Council general manager, Brett Stonestreet, said it was a balancing act to try to attract more development to Griffith, but at the same time cover the greater infrastructure costs.

"We do need to encourage development," Mr Stonestreet said.

"But at the end of the day, the infrastructure needs to be paid for by someone."

Paul Pierotti from the Griffith Business Chamber said the levy needed to be scrapped immediately.

"It's time to get rid of Section 94A," Mr Pierotti said.

"We need to look at the position we're actually in and we need to do it in a proactive way not bury our heads in the sand."

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