PERTH lord mayor Basil Zempilas has had no luck convincing premier Mark McGowan to drop the pricey Perth Parking Levy, with the tax on every city car bay going up 1.75 per cent this year.
The council has to pay the state government around $17.5 million this year, more than $1000 per bay. Private business owners pay as well, delivering the state coffers about $23m all up.
It goes to a state government fund intended to fix traffic congestion, increase pedestrian safety and improve the transport system.
The council feels the fund is rarely touched as the balance ticked past $95m in July last year.
This year’s increase adds another $380,000 the council has to find to balance its books.
At the July council meeting Mr Zempilas said he’d met with Mr McGowan in June and implored the premier to freeze the levy and audit the fund.
Both requests were turned down.
“Our council’s working hard to activate the city as we speak, and an increase in the Perth Parking Levy makes it harder again for the [council] to incentivise people to come in and support our retailers,” Mr Zempilas said.
Doing it tough
“City of Perth small businesses and retailers are doing it tough at the moment and this increase in the parking levy does not make life any easier for them.”
Given the state government’s brush off, he’s now written to the WA auditor general requesting the audit to find out how much is in the kitty now.
“We don’t know what the balance is or where the money’s spent, and that’s why we’re requesting an audit,” Mr Zempilas.
At this week’s budget meeting Mr Zempilas got up a motion to stop the council increasing its parking fees, despite the levy increase.
He said: “It is a key priority to activate our city, and it’s been well documented that city retailers are under constant pressure from suburban shopping centres, and adding to the burden of the city and our businesses is the state government decision to increase the Perth Parking Levy… that 1.75 per cent increase is a financial hit for every business that operates in the City of Perth, both large and small.
“For every dollar the city charges for parking, 29 cents now goes to the state government.”
Previous lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi also made several attempts to get the state government to ease up on the levy, but likewise had no luck.
by DAVID BELL