Council backs away from parking decision

 Orange City Council’s scrapping of parking contributions for change of use premises has meant ratepayers have had to foot the bill for more than $240,000 worth of development applications since November. 

In light of the loss council may reverse the decision and vote to reintroduce parking contributions at a discounted rate of 50 per cent.

Developers would pay $6500 per parking spot needed.

Mayor John Davis and councillor Glenn Taylor said they would put forward the motion to reintroduce parking contributions every three months until they got their way.

Cr Taylor initially voted to scrap contributions in November but voted for Cr Davis’s rescission motion at the last meeting to tax businesses at the reduced rate of 50 per cent.

The motion split the council with Cr Davis, Cr Taylor, Cr Hamling, Cr Duffy and Cr Jones supporting the motion whereas Cr Turner, Cr Munro, Cr Brown, Cr Gander and Cr Gryllis voted to maintain no parking contributions for change of use in the central business district (CBD).

Cr Taylor said soon after the policy was changed it became very clear council had done the wrong thing.

He said councillors were led to believe the amount lost would never be to this extreme. 

On average parking contributions counted for about $24,000 per year. 

“But since then we’ve been hit square in the eyes with over $200,000,” he said.

“It isn’t right that the developers don’t pay and the ratepayers must foot the bill.”

Cr Gryllis said he stood by the decision of council but did not realise the money lost from parking contributions would now come from general revenue, the tax payers’ back pocket.

To cover the shortfall from parking contributions, every time a development application (DA) is approved for a change of use, the money must be taken from the general funds and put into the parking kitty.  He suggested that instead businesses in the CBD should pay a higher rate to cover the lost funds.

“I have never said ratepayers should pay for it,” he said.

“It should come from the CBD area perhaps a rate rise.”

Cr Davis, who was always a staunch opponent of the abolishment of parking contributions said he believed the initial intention by councillors was not to have the money come from the ratepayers. He said now that it was evident the decision was costing the “average person trying to pay their bills” he believed eventually council would rescind the policy.

“All the time I have been on council I have never had so many people come up to me and say they don’t agree with what’s happened,” he said.

“I will be putting this to council every three months until it goes through.”

A rescission motion can only be put to council once every three months.

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