Plans to cut funds will cost

SWIMMING pools, playgrounds and other basic community facilities across NSW are under threat due to State Government plans to slash development contributions, according to the NSW Local Government and Shires associations.

The Government's changes, they say, would deprive councils and their communities of hundreds of millions of dollars for basic social infrastructure.

"The associations have calculated councils across the state are likely to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for crucial infrastructure if the changes proceed," president of the Local Government Association of NSW, Cr Genia McCaffery, said.

"For many councils that means planned facilities like community and aquatic centres won't be built, while others will be delayed or reduced in quality or size.

"It is not an exaggeration to say we are looking at a return to the 1970s a time of low quality, crowded and fragmented parks and libraries."

"While the Government persistently berates councils and made a song and dance about its planning discussion paper, it hasn't been so keen to publicise these changes or the planned introduction of a new State Infrastructure Levy in growth areas. It's taxation by stealth."

A Coffs Harbour City Council spokesperson said at this stage it was hard to say how badly the city could be affected because the extent of the planned changes is unclear but estimates showed it could lose as much as $1m a year.

Elsewhere in the state, City of Sydney Council could lose between $150 m and $280 million under the changes, and North Sydney would stand to lose around $55 million.

"Not only is the Government planning to slash the amount of funds councils can collect in development contributions, but it is also going to dictate what the remaining funds can be used for," President of the Shires Association of NSW, Cr Bruce Miller said.

"Despite a $6.3 billion infrastructure back log, councils currently provide high quality, centrally located community and recreational facilities which are required for liveable, functional communities.

"In the Government's haste to appease developers they have failed to assess how serious the ramifications of the changes will be for NSW communities.

"These funds are required to support population increases and the demand for new and improved infrastructure brought on by new development.

"We welcome ongoing discussions with the Government and are calling for a halt to the implementation of the changes."

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