New research by the Property Council of Australia revealed that Sydney councils are sitting on over $1 billion in unspent infrastructure funds.
The figure was revealed in the Property Council’s latest audit of infrastructure levies – based on local government financial statements for 2015-16.
“Councils are sitting on a billion dollars in unspent funds, funds that should be spent on providing services for the local community – funding libraries, local parks, sporting grounds,” Property Council NSW Executive Director Jane Fitzgerald said.
“This money is sitting in the bank earning interest, $30 million in interest over 2015/16, instead of being used for the local community. This money is provided to councils to boost local facilities but instead they are hoarding it.”
Ms Fitzgerald said the research revealed:
- $1,091,078,000 in unspent funds across 27 councils
- The amount of unspent funds increased by just under $115 million over the past year, a rise of 11.7 per cent
- $594,527,000 was collected in 2015-16, but only $510,052,000 was spent
- $30,084,000 was earned in interest over 2015/16.
“With a booming population and big new growth centres across Sydney, it is vital that this money is used to ease the pressure on our community, the money is no good to the community sitting in the bank, but it is good for the Council’s balance sheet,” she said.
“Those Councils fighting amalgamations using rate payers’ money should start focussing more on spending the levies collected for vital local infrastructure rather than political grandstanding in court.
“This research confirms that we need tighter controls that require councils to spend the funds swiftly on the infrastructure they claim it will finance rather than just leaving it in the bank.”
Property Council’s key points
- The audit is sourced directly from the financial statements of councils across metropolitan Sydney for 2015-16 so the data is supplied by councils.
- Data was available for 27 councils with some amalgamated councils not providing data and other councils simply not making the data public
- The closing balance in s94 funds across 27 Sydney councils as at June 30th, 2016 was $1.091 billion.
- The equivalent balance for the F2015 year was $976.519 million.
- The change represents a 11.7% increase in unspent levies.
- Councils raised $594.527 million in s94 levies during 2015-16.
- Over the past four years, the amount of unspent levies has increased by over 40 per cent.