Hornsby Shire Council offers interim payment of rates to Parramatta Council

Compromise: “This is an issue that should be decided by the representatives of our two communities, instead of wasting ratepayers’ money," Philip Ruddock said.
Compromise: “This is an issue that should be decided by the representatives of our two communities, instead of wasting ratepayers’ money," Philip Ruddock said.

Hornsby Council hopes to get back into Parramatta Council’s good books following recent legal threats.

It has offered to make a $9 million interim payment to Parramatta for rates from suburbs south of the M2 taken from Hornsby last year.

Around 15,000 Carlingford, Beecroft and Epping residents were transferred from Hornsby to Parramatta in May 2016 following the state government’s amalgamation reforms. 

Parramatta recently claimed it was owed $24 million in outstanding rates and levies. In October, an urgent motion was adopted to write to Hornsby with demands to pay up and provide all records within 14 days and threatened legal action. 

“We make this voluntary payment in good faith, as we have always had a strong relationship with Parramatta and wish that to continue,” Hornsby mayor Philip Ruddock said.

“We have never denied that money was owed. It was money we collected on behalf of Parramatta as part of the orderly transition, following the NSW government’s decision to transfer those suburbs to Parramatta. All year we have been trying to enter negotiations with Parramatta to determine the exact figure and were very disappointed that they instead launched court action.”

Court action between the councils is on hold until February in the hope negotiations continue.

Cr Ruddock hopes to continue a cooperative relationship. “Our dispute regarding the amalgamation process has never been with Parramatta,” he said.

“We hope that this act of good faith will be enough to encourage Parramatta to speak with us about the best path forward. Hornsby is paying the rate money that belongs to Parramatta, but there are other more complicated issues that need to be discussed. To properly resolve this matter, we need to sit down and have a civilised discussion that will lead to agreement.”

A Parramatta Council spokesman said it has made every effort to resolve the situation through numerous discussions with Hornsby since May 2016. He said it was forced to start legal action to recover money owed due to Hornsby’s repeated refusals to enter into discussions in good faith.

“Council welcomes this initial payment of $9 million from Hornsby and their commitment to finally provide the electronic records of the properties transferred to Parramatta,” he said.

“Council will continue to pursue the remaining monies owed in rates and levies collected from Epping residents and businesses by Hornsby since the proclamation of new local government boundaries, as well as outstanding Section 94 contributions. It’s hoped that mediation will occur between the two councils to resolve all remaining outstanding matters between the councils.”