Edward Mandla
FY15-16 Budget

Published On: 29/06/2015

We are asked tonight to put our name to a budget that speaks volumes of how we think about those that pick up the tab in this city. Itís all about us.

Iíve been told that I don't understand how rates and charges are calculated and the fault is with me, as though all should bow down to our mantra, and that there is no other choice.

In our appendices, in reply to community submissions we say four times that our fees and charges undergo complete benchmarking and comparisons. I just donít believe it.

Particularly when last year we were told in the chamber that ďOh yeah, a lot of it is CPI on CPI and a feeling of whether itís reasonable.Ē I donít believe a human comes up with charges like this:

2 Adults and 3 Kids to go swimming $21.30

25m Lane Hire $12.10

Casual Gym Visit $19.80

Full Court Hire $39.40

Monthly Swim Squad $96.30

Perhaps we should stop feeling about what is reasonable and start thinking about what is reasonable.

There are hundreds of fees like that really need to go back to the drawing board. My hope is that by voting ďNoĒ tonight that it may encourage us to have a proper rethink next year. More importantly how we stand with other destinations such as Melbourne or Parramatta.

You may not like to think about it, but residents, business and visitors can vote with their feet, or their cars for that matter, which is probably why we don't like cars. But what really bothers me is how we try and squeeze every last cent from business. Itís arrogant thinking and not the global city thinking that is required.

No one would have forgotten my KFC, Sydney and Melbourne example last month. Cutting through the bureaucratic gobbledygook, these shops are of equivalent size and selling chicken at the same price. Out rates were more than double. All I got was a lecture about how I didn't understand our bureaucratís calculations. Cr Mant believes that when we tell people a magical basis of calculation (our ad valorem seven herbs and spices) theyíll be happy to know why they are going broke instead of just how.

But to add salt to the wound, the KFC on Broadway tells me he has to lodge a full DA application at a cost of $6,000 every year to maintain his trading hours. We wonít give him approval outside of 12 months. Theyíre not selling alcohol, just nuggets and burgers.

The crane charges are unbelievable. A large developer told me he prefers to develop in Melbourne as heís sick of our charges plus it can take up to two and half years to get approval.

A hotel GM told me that City of Sydney fees and charges were higher than their capital costs of works done.

For those who have forgotten, our fees and charges to have a crane for a day are more than four times higher than Melbourne.

The people who pay our rates donít care how we calculate them or on what basis, they just need them to be competitive and our services efficient.

Sydney needs to lift its game on fees and charges, as there will be more competition including Parramatta that is planning to take it up to us. The days of resting on our laurels are over. Just look down Oxford Street for what the future holds.

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