The NSW Government on 13 August reversed for one year a decision to impose an emergency services levy on 128 local councils, which saw some council’s levy charges jump by $220,000.
The levy, which was to help cover the compensation costs of firefighters who had developed certain cancers, was imposed without consultation, and after councils had set their budgets for 2019-20.
“We welcome the NSW Government’s decision to listen to us, reversing its decision to significantly increase the emergency services levy cost to NSW councils this year,” Local Government NSW President Linda Scott said.
“I welcome the Deputy Premier and Local Government Minister’s recognition that this additional, unexpected cost to councils, particularly those in rural and regional areas affected by the drought, would cost communities.”
The state government said it will cover the $13.6m in the Emergency Services Levy paid by councils for this financial year, acknowledging “angst” among councils which had already set their budgets.
“We will continue to consult with local councils to better manage the impacts of the emergency services levy especially on their annual budgeting cycles,” Local Government Minister, Shelley Hancock, said.
LGNSW said NSW councils contribute 11.7 per cent of the state’s Emergency Services budget, with the cost embedded in council rates and further costs recovered through insurance premiums.