Concern over NSW Government decision to pass the buck on emergency services funding

Photograph: Councillors are calling on the NSW Government to restore the Emergency Services Levy subsidy.

Photo by Highway Patrol Images provided under Creative Commons license.

26 May 2023

Bega Valley Shire Mayor, Russell Fitzpatrick has voiced deep concern regarding the NSW Government’s decision to impose a substantial increase in the Emergency Services Levy on local councils.

“If imposed, this will have a serious impact on our capacity to provide essential services and infrastructure for the community,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.

“Our Council is faced with an unjustifiable 53.1% surge in the Emergency Services Levy, allocated to fund the NSW emergency services budget.

“This staggering increase overshadows the 4.1% rate peg permitted by IPART, which in itself is woefully insufficient.

“Notably, the exorbitant cost escalation undermines the work Council and the community have put into discussing a Special Rate Variation (SRV) application that currently sits with IPART for determination.

“Our application was based on Council’s financial needs to provide for the people of the Bega Valley, and the community’s capacity to pay for high service levels. With this additional financial burden, we feel the goalposts have been moved without reason or warning.

“Councillors joined me in a meeting this week to call on the NSW Government to restore a levy subsidy and to rethink how it funds the state’s vitally important emergency services.

“Put simply, the NSW Government owns and operates the emergency services and associated assets, so it’s only fair they pay for its upkeep.

“A local government funding model makes no sense and gives us less money to fund important services and upgrades designed to make our shire resilient.

“This means less money for post flood road repairs, less money to develop vitally important resilience programs and less money to prepare us for the next emergency.

“Funding emergency services should never come at the expense of essential community services and infrastructure. It should be a priority commitment to the people of NSW that a reliable service is ready, waiting and fully funded by the state.”

For more information, visit Council’s website.

/Public Release. View in full here.