Local councils across the North Coast are campaigning against a major hike in the Emergency Services Levy which they say will impact on their ability to fund basic services.
The Lismore, Tweed, Tenterfield and Kyogle councils say the levy increase is another example of cost shifting by the State Government, and one which came with virtually no consultation.
Last month councils across the state were sent bills from Revenue NSW detailing their new contributions to the levy. They were said to have increased by 11.7 per cent , but were in fact higher in real terms, ranging from 13 per cent to 24 per cent year-on-year increases.
The dollar increases were $124,300 for Lismore City, $97,670 for Tweed Shire; about $70,000 for Tenterfield Shire and about $50,000 for Kyogle Shire.
‘No one is arguing about the need to increase the levy towards covering new workers’ compensation changes for volunteer and career firefighters affected by work-related cancers … that is right and proper … but the NSW Government should pick up the tab,’ the State Member for Lismore, Janelle Saffin, said.
‘Local Government NSW is calling for the NSW Government to cover the initial additional $19-million increase to local councils (representing 11.7 per cent of the increase) for the first year.’
‘It is also calling for the NSW Government to work with local councils to redesign the funding mechanism for the scheme to ensure fairness into the future. Lismore City Council and Tweed Shire Council support this campaign,’ she said.
Ms Saffin said she had put a question on notice to Minister Hancock as soon as local mayors raised this issue.
‘I know Country Mayors president Cr Katrina Humphries believes this is cost shifting at its cheekiest and that many councils, already struggling to meet the Government’s Fit For The Future benchmarks, will simply refuse to pay the increase,’ she said.