Monday, 04 April 2016 17:02

Councils not consulted on levy they must administer

Media release, 4 April, 2016

 

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) is concerned that councils are still in the dark regarding details of a state Emergency Services Property Levy (ESPL) due to be released in the coming months.

WSROC President Cllr Tony Hadchiti said “In December last year, the NSW Government stated it would be consulting councils on the implementation of an ESPL due to be released in the first half of 2016. This has not happened.”

The ESPL aims to spread the load of funding NSW’s emergency services, through a state levy for all NSW landowners. Currently, the majority of funding for emergency services is recovered through a tax on insurance companies. It is hoped that the new system will reduce insurance premiums for NSW residents.

“While WSROC supports the reform in principle, but we are concerned that without consultation, there may be unexpected costs for both councils and residents,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“The average cost of the ESPL to homeowners is expected to be around $160 per year; well below the premiums charged by insurance companies for those living in ‘at risk’ areas. However, residents could be charged much more than this,” he said.

“Councils are landowners too, and as a result, may have to foot sizeable bills for large amounts of publically owned land such as parks, reserves and leisure centres,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“Councils may also be up for significant administration costs as, under the new legislation, they will be responsible for the collection of the levy on behalf of the state government,” he said.

“Local government has still not been advised of how the new legislation will work and therefore cannot begin to budget for any increase in state levies,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“Councils have always contributed funds to support our state’s emergency services as part of the local government Emergency Services Levy (ESL).

“This levy helps fund our police, Rural Fire Service and SES. Services which are critical to the safety of Western Sydney residents,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“We have not been told whether these council contributions will still be payable to the state government once the Property Levy comes into play,” he said.

“Councils could be in for a major bill shock in the next couple of months. And the only option will be to pass this cost on to residents through higher rates,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“This is yet another example of the state government shifting costs to local councils,” he said.

“The government is quick to point out when it thinks local government is underperforming, but it is equally quick to seek council support state-level programs with little to no consultation,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“Councils are funded by rate payers and unfortunately, any significant increase in running cost will inevitably impact on our residents; whether through a decrease in services or an increase in rates” he said.

“I hope the state government will provide councils with the financial assistance they need to proceed with the reform, however we have no way of knowing whether this will be the case,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

 [ENDS]

Media contact: Kelly-Anne Gee, 02 9671 4333 (ext. 118), 0425 871 868 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   

Last modified on Wednesday, 20 April 2016 13:12

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