Newcastle City Council chief executive officer Jeremy Bath says the state government could cut the cost of council parking fines “with the stroke of a pen” by forgoing its processing fee.
The Newcastle Herald reported on Thursday that Mr Bath was rejecting state calls to cut parking fines because they were important to council revenue and reduced parking infringements.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says the government, which issues parking fines in a handful of designated areas, most of them in Sydney, will cut 10 of its penalty types from $110 to $80 on July 1 and is pushing councils to follow suit.
Mr Perrottet promised to “name and shame” councils which did not comply and called out Newcastle council while on a visit to the city on Wednesday.
“Councils have had it too good for too long and ... using fines as cash cows and blaming the state government,” he said. “So what I’m saying to councils, and I say this to Newcastle City Council, cut your fines.”
But Mr Bath hit back on Thursday, saying the government will take $525,000 of the $3.5 million the council will raise in parking fines in the next financial year.
“The community may be unaware that $20 of every parking fine paid to Newcastle City Council is passed on to the NSW government as a processing fee,” he said.
“This means the treasurer could with the stroke of a pen reduce the cost of parking fines in Newcastle by more than half a million dollars annually. All he needs to do is waive the processing fee Revenue NSW charges on every parking fine we issue.
“This would reduce the cost of a fine by 15 per cent and be achieved without adversely affecting the budget of Newcastle City Council.”
The state’s pre-election budget forecasts that cutting state-issued parking fines will cost it only $1.6 million.
Newcastle council made $7.644 million in parking revenue in 2016-17, up $772,000 on the previous year, plus $3.672 million in parking fines, up from $2.877 million.
A Lake Macquarie City Council spokesperson said staff would prepare a report for councillors on the issue.
“It is our understanding that less than half of the 10 parking fines would apply in Lake Macquarie City as we do not operate on-street paid parking,” the spokesperson said.
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