Ratepayer rip-off: council sits on $36m stash

March 21, 2024 8:27 am in by
Image: Wyndham council's sprawling, luxuriously-landscaped offices on the Princes Highway (Google)

The City of Wyndham has been described as “lazy” and “inept” following revelations it has been sitting on a secret $36m stash collected from developers for more than 20 years.

The staggering amount of unused cash was revealed after the city sought legal advice on how it could spend the money, which was delivered to the council as part of the Developer Contribution Plan.

The scheme sets contribution rates from companies behind housing developments. The money is meant to be spent on infrastructure services specifically in the area of each development – in this case, Point Cook.

Article continues after this ad

Council Watch president Dean Hurlston told the Herald Sun the council should conduct a full and public audit to see whether other Wyndham suburbs have also been starved of much-needed funds.

“Why have officers and successive chief executives not done the hard work to ensure public benefit was derived as soon as possible?” he asked.

“Why has it taken two decades to figure out what other councils have been doing forever? Point Cook residents have been ripped off more than $36m for 20 years and they deserve answers, it’s pathetic.”

Wyndham is one of Melbourne’s most over-crowded cities, with roads and other infrastructure overwhelmed by the area’s rapid growth. Local roads are regularly choked with traffic and dangerous intersections take years to have traffic lights installed.

The council denied suggestions that Point Cook has missed out on important infrastructure, saying it had “met its obligations to deliver community centres in Point Cook” and “continues to deliver recreation facilities”.

Article continues after this ad

It said some projects had been unable to proceed because of insufficient land availability for road reserves, or underground services that could not be relocated.

The council told the Herald Sun it expected some of the windfall to be allocated in next month’s council budget.

It failed to respond to questions about interest accrued over the last two decades which, according to some estimates obtained by Geelong broadcasters, could be worth up to an additional $30m.