CHANGES: Ratepayers will have clear information about how councils are spending developer infrastructure charges.
CHANGES: Ratepayers will have clear information about how councils are spending developer infrastructure charges. Bev Lacey

How you can find out where development fees are being spent

LOCKYER Valley Regional Council has welcomed a push for greater funding transparency.

Ratepayers will have clear information about how councils are spending developer infrastructure charges, with amendments proposed for the state planning system.

From next year, councils will be required to publish online the value of infrastructure charges they receive, and how and where these funds are spent.

This will include publishing information such as infrastructure charges notices and documents used in the review, making or amendment of a local government infrastructure plan.

Mayor Tanya Milligan said the council was prepared for the new push to increase spending transparency.

"Lockyer Valley Regional Council are committed to maintaining a high level of transparency and welcome the State Government's requirement for the publication of infrastructure charges and where the money is being spent,” Cr Milligan said.

"Council have a dedicated external Audit and Risk Management Committee in place to consistently monitor and review the integrity of council and make recommendations on improvements.

She said the council was striving to "operate on the front foot”.

"We are committed to ensuring infrastructure charges collected are sensibly allocated to invest in additional infrastructure to serve existing and future residents,” she said

"Transparent and effective decision making processes remain at the forefront of our concern and Council's Planning and Development department will ensure the infrastructure charges register will be available from January 1, 2020.”

State Minister for Planning Cameron Dick said the change were about providing the public with information.

"The amendments will create a better understanding of how development activity benefits the broader community, through improved infrastructure and services such as stormwater, transport, public parks and land for community facilities,” Mr Dick said.

"Developers pay significant amounts to local governments to build and upgrade infrastructure to support their development, so it's important the community knows where councils are spending these funds.”

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the proposed changes would align with, and build on, potential amendments to the Local Government Act for transparency and accountability.

Encouragingly, some local governments are already publishing this information.

Property Council of Australia's Queensland Executive Director Chris Mountford said the lack of transparency around the collection and spending of infrastructure charges has contributed to community concerns that development occurs without the necessary local infrastructure upgrades.

"What is often not understood is that all new developments are required to make a significant contribution to the cost of upgrading local government infrastructure as part of their approval,” Mr Mountford said.

"Until now, it has been difficult for the community to see the expected correlation between growth and development, and the associated infrastructure that should be delivered by council.”

Local governments will be working between now and January 2020 to put the necessary reporting systems in place and ensure this important information is up to date and accurate.

The proposed amendments have been subject to extensive consultation with local governments and key industry stakeholders, including the Local Government Association of Queensland, Property Council Australia and the Urban Development Institute of Australia.



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