Albury Council claims it has been snubbed by NSW government for funding

DISADVANTAGED: Albury Council is concerned for residents and businesses on their side of the border due to Victoria having a lower payroll tax rate.
DISADVANTAGED: Albury Council is concerned for residents and businesses on their side of the border due to Victoria having a lower payroll tax rate.

A parliamentary committee has called on the NSW government to prove it does not disadvantage border cities when assessing what projects should receive funding.

Albury Council told the inquiry into “regional development and a global Sydney” last year its funding applications were not treated the same as other cities across the state.

The council claimed the government saw the economic benefits from Albury projects as weaker because it was possible Victorian residents and businesses could benefit from jobs or investment.

The committee’s report released this week referenced Albury Council acting economic development team leader Jo Hewitt, who had said it was frustrating to not receive the same level of support as other non-border communities.

“We are still NSW residents and we still have to provide for them,” she said.

“The benefits that are leaving are also coming back in, so it is a neutral point by the end of the day.”

The report’s first recommendation was “that the NSW Treasury further clarify whether border towns are subjected to a reduction in the projected benefits in assessing projects”.

“The committee does not accept the suggested rationale that economic projects on border towns should be subjected to a reduction in the projected benefit,” the report stated.

“It is further recommended that such calculations should be made public after projects are refused or contracts are let for all regional areas, in order to allay community concerns.”

It also recommended the NSW government consider lower taxes for regional areas than Sydney.

Albury Council’s submission stated Victoria’s regional tax rate of 3.6 per cent, compared to 5.4 per cent in NSW, had resulted in the loss of “considerable businesses”.

Committee chair Taylor Martin said the payroll tax rate reduced the competitiveness of NSW businesses.

“This is exacerbated in border communities where differences in taxation disadvantage businesses,” he said.

“The committee recommends that the NSW government review business taxes applicable in regional NSW  with a view to lessen the burden on NSW businesses.”

The government will consider the 22 recommendations in the report.