The NSW Government has given local government two months’ notice on a significant increase in the Emergency Services Levy without warning or consultation.
“Each year, the NSW Government collects payments from councils and insurers to fund emergency services agencies in NSW, with councils required to pay 11.7 per cent of the budget required by NSW Emergency Services. These charges are embedded in council rates and insurance premiums”, said Lithgow Council Mayor Councillor Ray Thompson.
The NSW Government has implemented new measures to provide better workers’ compensation coverage for volunteer and career firefighters who are diagnosed with one of twelve specific work-related cancers.
Councillor Thompson added, “While Council supports the new workers’ compensation coverage, the NSW Government had chosen to pass on these significant additional charges to Councils and communities by increasing the emergency services levy, rather than identifying savings in the state government’s budget.”
The Council received notification of a 21% levy increase in the levy on 7 May 2019 upon the receipt of the annual invoice from Revenue NSW. The notice which accompanied the invoice also states “further ESL increases are anticipated in the following year to recover the additional costs incurred during 2018/19.”
At the time of receiving the 2019/20 levy invoice, Council’s 2019/20 draft budget and Operational Plan had been completed and placed on public exhibition.
Councillor Thompson further stated “Council allowed for a 2.5% increase in the Emergency Services Levy from 2018/19 to 2019/20. The extraordinary increase in the levy equates to a budget shortfall of $72,000. The Council has no option except to reduce its program of works for 2019/20 to fund the additional impost from the NSW Government. I call on the NSW Government to cover the additional cost of providing emergency services in NSW so as not to disadvantage local communities”.