Hand in the levy pie

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By: Zoe Tovey

Port Phillip Council has voted to support the introduction of a tax on non-residential car parking spaces across the municipality – provided the State Government gives the council a share of the revenue.

The Government wants to expand the congestion levy, which is currently charged on car parks and off-street car spaces within non-residential premises along the St Kilda Road North precinct, to suburbs including St Kilda, St Kilda West, Albert Park, Middle Park, Port Melbourne and South Melbourne.

The council said the proposed change would not affect residential property owners. It would apply to car parks and spaces owned by businesses that are not reserved for visitors. Effected owners would pay a fee of $950 per space.

The levy would hit business owners hard, as well as car-park operators and council itself. Acting Mayor Serge Thomann said the council could end up paying the State Government more than $1 million in 2015, as it owns several off-street car parks.

Councillors have agreed to support the levy extension “as long as an agreement is made between the City of Port Phillip and the Victorian State Government to return 14 per cent of the revenue raised within the City to Council to fund active transport projects”. The City of Melbourne receives a 14 per cent rebate from the Government for the congestion levy, which is imposed throughout the CBD.

Cr Thomann said that instead of the revenue vanishing into the Government’s coffers, some of it should be apportioned to help Council develop sustainable transport projects to reduce road congestion, such as improved bicycle paths and more public transport options.

“The City of Port Phillip believes 14 per cent of the levy should be returned to us so we can allocate the funds to projects such as expanding capacity and safety along the busy St Kilda Road bicycle route in partnership with the Government and the City of Melbourne.”

Council is particularly concerned about parking at Albert Park, saying that the new levy would mean parking fees would likely have to be abolished at the venue, resulting in an annual revenue loss of $850,000.

“The addition of the proposed levy is expected to prove economically unfeasible for Albert Park, who estimate it would cost them over $1 million per annum. They currently only make $850,000 from car parking fees,” said Cr Thomann.

“By scrapping parking fees, Albert Park would not be liable for the levy as free visitor spaces are exempted.”

The City of Port Phillip argues that Albert Park should be exempted from the levy altogether, as has been granted to other large open spaces such as Melbourne Zoo.


Will you be liable?

Unless an exemption applies, you will be liable for the congestion levy if, within the levy area, you:

  • own non-residential premises including an office space or building that has off-street parking;
  • lease Crown land that has off-street parking, or;
  • are a car-park operator.
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