Emergency Services Levy must be removed from rating system

Local Government ratepayers are funding more than a billion dollars of State Government obligations, according to a new report released today.

The 2021-22 Cost Shifting Survey, conducted by the respected consulting firm Morrison Low, has revealed that cost shifting totalled $1.36 billion in 2021-22, far exceeding historical records and representing an increase of $540 million since the Cost Shifting Survey was last carried out in 2017-18.

The President of Local Government NSW, Cr Darriea Turley AM, said the findings of the report are alarming and should shock every ratepayer.

“It’s just not acceptable for the State Government to use local councils as a piggy bank for State programs and services,” Cr Turley said.

“This is effectively a $1.36 billion dollar tax on every ratepayer in NSW.

“At a time when councils are still rebuilding after the natural disasters of the past few years, the last thing they need to be doing is paying for State Government obligations too.”

The increase in cost shifting has been accelerated by various State Government policies, with the most significant examples of cost shifting in 2021-22 being:

  • The waste levy, which remains the largest single contributor to cost shifting in NSW, totalling $292.9 million.
  • The Emergency Services Levy and associated emergency service contributions, which totalled $165.4 million and represented the largest direct cost shift to local councils.
  • The NSW Government’s failure to fully reimburse local councils for mandatory pensioner rate rebates, resulting in councils losing $55.2 million.
  • The NSW Government’s failure to cover the originally committed 50 per cent of the cost of libraries, resulting in an additional $156.7 million in costs to councils.

Cr Turley said the cost shift amounted to a rate burden of $460.67 on every ratepayer in NSW which is up to 50 percent of their total rates bill in some local government areas.

Councils hardest hit include Berrigan Shire Council in the Southern Riverina, Clarence Valley in the state’s north, and Inner West, Lane Cove and Woollahra councils, all in Sydney.


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