In a Mayoral report tabled today Eurobodalla Council's Mayor, Liz Innes sought approval from her fellow Councillors to "opt in" to an invitation by the NSW Government to reduce their parking fines following recent changes to regulations first flagged in the 2018-19 NSW budget. Councils across NSW who choose to opt in by January 1st, 2019 will be formally recognised under legislation and will then be able to lower their most common parking fines from 1 March 2019 reducing a typical level 2 parking fine from $112 to $80.
Being the last Council meeting of 2018 it was essential that the Mayor bring this to the chamber in order to "opt in" by the due date of January 1st. Though this might have seemed a fairly straight forward issue that was presented on the merits that NSW was found to be excessively high compared with other states for similar fines and that Eurobodalla was decidedly older and as such its older residents might find higher fines offing a considerable impact to a household budget. Councillor Jack Tait however was of the opinion to leave the fines as they were "Do the crime, pay the fine". It was recognised that the reduction in fines would result in a loss of Council revenue between $10,000 and $50,000 per year. The wide range was explained that the nature of fines and number of fines varies from year to year. The bottom line that was argued though was the loss of revenue to Council by an announcement that, to Councillor Anthony Mayne, had the hint of State politics in the lead up to March 2019 election. Both Councillors Mayne and Brown recognised that a possible loss of $50,000 from Council's annual revenue stream that is returned to General fund to pay rangers etc would compound annually and would need to be sourced from other areas of the budget. He asked what the hurry was and that Council could defer their decision in order to better pinpoint the potential losses in revenue. Councillor Phil Constable offered that the fines as they stand are designed to be a deterrent and that an $80 fine is a significant whack and enough of a deterrent to comply In the end it went to a vote and Council adopted to reduce its parking fines with Councillors Mayne and Brown voting against.