Wagga City Council will adopt a “middle ground” on the NSW government’s campaign for parking fine reductions despite some councillors labeling the measure an “election ploy”.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has written to Mayor Greg Conkey advising him that the mandatory minimum for ‘Level 2’ parking fines had been lowered from $112 to $80.
Deputy mayor Dallas Tout, seconded by Cr Tim Koschel, moved an amendment during Monday’s meeting that council opt in for fine decreases.
However, Wagga council will give itself an extra six months to implement the changes, with the reductions due to come into force on September 1.
Mr Perrottet had outlined that councils with an agreement to reduce fines by March 1 would be placed on a public list.
Cr Tout said the amendment was in aid of finding “some form of middle ground”.
“I’m trying to find a time-frame where the council can have time to work through the impact with parking and rangers, and also where the public is aware,” he said.
A report to councillors stated that the changes would reduce parking fine revenue by 28 per cent, equivalent to $85,000-$95,000 next financial year.
Earlier in the debate, Cr Vanessa Keenan had challenged Mr Perrottet’s claim that NSW councils had more expensive fines than London or New York City, which are notorious for their strict regulation of parking.
“With a bit of cynicism, I note that the government will, for want of a better term, name or shame councils that opt in and opt out.
“Councils that opt out can very easily appear to be money hungry when it’s very much the case that we’re making there’s a deterrent,” she said.
Cr Rod Kendall agreed that the comparison was either “wrong on purpose” or an amalgamation of outer boroughs.
“Councillors, I’d suggest you consider carefully the letter and its intent before you vote,” Cr Kendall said.
Cr Dan Hayes said the Mr Perrottet’s changes were “being deployed three months before an election” at the expense of councils and fines were needed to keep parking available for CBD retail shoppers.
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