Parramatta light rail proposed levy derailed

Secret plans to slug property owners with an annual levy for almost 30 years to help fund Parramatta light rail have been derailed.

The proposal was part of a 2015 Parramatta Council commissioned report, which suggested placing a $110 a year levy on all residential and commercial developments within 800 metres of light rail stops. The model envisaged the measures be in place from 2020 until 2048.

“It is just another slap in the face for western Sydney people who already deal with congested trains, massive new tolls on an old road and now a $110 levy,” Granville MP Julia Finn said. “It is outrageous that the people of Parramatta are being singled out to pay for light rail, unlike the eastern suburbs.”

Parramatta MP Geoff Lee assured the levy won’t go ahead. “It was a proposal instigated by the council two years ago, which I would never have supported. “I’m opposed to any levy placed on property owners for existing developments,” he said.

Council administrator Amanda Chadwick said the preliminary study commissioned by the former council was for internal use and never presented for adoption.

The state government has reserved $1 billion for the first stage of Parramatta Light Rail from Restart NSW and Rebuilding NSW funds.   “The NSW Government has always said the project cost will be more than this, and a delivery model and investment decision will be confirmed in coming months,” a Transport for NSW spokeswoman said. “A range of funding sources to meet the capital cost of the project are being considered by the NSW government.”

Dr Lee added: “99.9 per cent of developers don’t mind paying extra for infrastructure. The benefits should be shared by all.”

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Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue chairman Christopher Brown supports measures that ensure those who directly benefit from infrastructure subsidise the cost. He believes the days of the government being solely responsible for funding projects should be over.

The Environmental Impact Statement for the project’s first stage to Carlingford will soon go on public exhibition.

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