Council has repeatedly got up on its high horse and asked that developer application fees be raised so that near ‘full cost recovery’ be returned to council. We have no problem with this. What we do have a major problem with is the appalling lack of governance that was exhibited at the MAV State Conference and the motion put up by Esakoff. Not for the first time are motions submitted that have not been determined in open council (hence authorised by a council resolution) but decided in backroom discussions. This time however, the motion flies in the face of a council resolution that was passed on the 28th April 2015.

Here is what the resolution stated:

Crs Delahunty/Lobo

  1. That Council note the enclosed case study in which Government set a fee of $10,261 to cover State government costs for VCAT but only $4,939 for much more work undertaken at the expense of Council (ie ratepayers).
  2. That Council note that ratepayers are subsidising property developers by more than $1m each year because State Governments have not increased planning application fees at all since 2009.
  3. That Council notes that all rates are higher than they would otherwise be in order to cover the cost of processing developers’ applications.
  4. That Council write to the Minister for Planning, enclosing this Item,and requesting him to increase the planning application fees for developments over $500,000 to cover the full cost of administering applications (including the costs of taking part in VCAT proceedings and administering conditions of permits), or to the levels already set by the State government for VCAT, whichever is higher.
  5. That, if the Minister implements part (d) of this resolution, Council undertakes to pass on the full effect of the savings (estimated at around $1m pa) to ratepayers in the first available rates year to the satisfaction of the Auditor General and/or Essential Services Commission.
  6. That Council copies this correspondence to the Premier of Victoria and the Minister for Local Government and also to the relevant state representatives of the Southern MetropolitanRegion, Caulfield, Bentleigh and Oakleigh and also to the Chari (sic)of the Essential Services Commission for their information.
  7. That Council also forward a copy of this report and motion to the Municipal Association of Victoria and the Victorian Local Governance Association to assist in their efforts to save the ratepayers of Victoria subsidising the costs of developers.


Crs Lipshutz/Okotel

That paragraph e  be excised from the Motion. (this refers to returning monies to ratepayers – our explanation)

The AMENDMENT was put and CARRIED and on becoming the SUBSTANTIVE MOTION was again put and CARRIED unanimously.

Several things are worth noting in the above –

  • God forbid that money should be returned back to ratepayers and rates reduced! Better that it go into council coffers
  • No surprises in who pushed for this amendment

But then there is the question of Esakoff’s motion at the recent State Council. It read –

That the MAV calls on the State Government to increase town planning application fees for commercial projects to full cost recovery

The resolution of April 2015 did not single out COMMERCIAL PROJECTS. In fact, the wording was crystal clear – all projects over $500,000. This motion has not been rescinded. Therefore it still stands. So why, did Esakoff table such a motion that did not adhere to council’s formal position?

In our view, this is just another example of the wheeling and dealing, and abysmal level of governance that occurs in this council. Decision after decision is made in the backroom with no concern for residents and no concern for alleviating their rate burden.

PS: a reminder as to which councillors voted for the amendment – ie not returning any savings to residents. No prizes for guessing who they are –