Backflip over ratepayer charge dump

THE State Government has backflipped on forcing local councils to pay for an unexpected multi-million dollar hike in this year’s NSW Emergency Services Levy.

The news of the 12-month reprieve was welcomed by Cumberland general manager Hamish McNulty, who said the council “strongly believes that any additional costs should not ever be shifted onto local councils, as this will impact our service delivery for residents”.
The State’s councils contribute 11.7 per cent of the NSW Emergency Services budget, with the cost embedded in rates and further costs recovered through insurance premiums.
However the 2019/20 contributions jumped without warning to cover the cost of extending workers’ compensation coverage for volunteer and career firefighters diagnosed with one of 12 specific work-related cancers.
Last week, the Acting Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro and the Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock said the State Government would pay the $13.6 million levy increase this year.
Mrs Hancock said they had listened to the concerns of local councils.
“We acknowledge that many councils had already developed and approved their 2019-20 Budgets before the invoices for the increased emergency services levy were issued and this has caused some angst,” she said.
However Shadow Treasurer Walt Secord labelled the move a “cruel and crafty hoax” and accused the Government of “just kicking the can down the road for another year”.
“This is not a fix. It is not a long-term plan,” he said.
“The Berejiklian Government is just giving the impression that it is bowing to pressure and the matter is still unresolved after more than two years.”