5 May 2023

Snowy Monaro joins other local councils in fight against levy increases

| Gail Eastaway
Start the conversation
Mayor Narelle Davis

Snowy Monaro Mayor Narelle Davis. Photo: Snowy Monaro Regional Council.

Snowy Monaro Regional Council (SMRC) Mayor Narelle Davis has joined the call against the new NSW Government’s plans to apply big increases in the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) to local government.

Councils’ peak body Local Government NSW (LGNSW) said the decision to apply sky-high increases in the ESL would be catastrophic for many councils, and could see some become insolvent.

Cr Davis said: “I totally agree with LGNSW president Darriea Turley: the Emergency Services Levy has always been an unfair, non-transparent levy on councils.

“This potential increased levy will affect the poorest councils, which are rural/regional councils.

“SMRC will be required to further reduce or cut services to pay this potential increase to this levy.”

SMRC CEO Peter Bascomb outlined the impost to the council as follows:

2018/19 – $866,006; 2019/20 – $1,072,456; 2020/21 – $1,498,616; 2021/22 – $1,114,108; 2022/23 – $1,486,001; 2023/24 – $1,546,856.

“This represents a 79 per cent increase since FY19, and a 4 per cent increase over this year,” Mr Bascomb said.

“The $60,855 increase from this year is 8.5 per cent of the rate cap increase.”

LGNSW said that for some councils, the unexpected cost hit would all but wipe out any IPART-approved rate rise, shredding budgets already under massive pressure from the combined impact of the pandemic, extreme weather events, high inflation and wage increases.

The ESL is a cost imposed on councils and the insurance industry to fund the emergency services budget in NSW.

The majority is paid as part of insurance premiums, with a further 11.7 per cent picked up by councils and 14.6 per cent by the State Government itself.

“The ESL is an absolutely blatant cost shift by the State Government,” Cr Turley said.

“To make things worse, the ESL has seen stratospheric increases year-on-year to make up for the Government’s unfunded workers’ compensation liability for emergency services workers struck down by a range of cancers.

“Now it appears councils are being asked to fund massive rises in emergency services budgets, including a 73 per cent increase in the budget allocation to the State Emergency Services (SES).

“The levy increase for the state’s 128 councils in 2023/24 alone sits just under $77 million.

“To put that in perspective, Hay Shire Council will immediately lose 88.6 per cent of its approved rate rise to the ESL, while Bourke Shire Council will lose 94 per cent, Yass Valley Council will lose 96 per cent, and Tenterfield will lose 119 per cent.

“Hornsby Council will lose about 75 per cent of its approved rate rise.

“This is an alarming development coming late in the council budgeting cycle and well after the IPART’s rates determination for 2023-24.

“The effect will leave some councils with insufficient funds to cover cost increases in other areas. These costs will need to be met by cuts to staff and services.”

READ ALSO Marine Rescue to receive new vessel for alpine lakes

Cr Turley said the local government sector’s fight was not with emergency services workers, but with a duplicitous and financially unsustainable funding system.

“I’m seeking urgent talks with Treasurer Daniel Mookhey where I will ask him to work with councils to develop a fairer funding system,” she said.

“This shock increase comes at a time when council budgets are still struggling with flood and bushfire disaster recovery.

“When you factor in the inflation and soaring costs we are all facing across the full gamut of our operations, the immediate future looks particularly bleak.

“We are urgently calling on the Government to:

  • Restore the subsidy for 2023
  • Unshackle this payment from council rates
  • Develop a fairer, more transparent and financially sustainable method of funding the critically important emergency services that benefit us all.”

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.