State government agrees to help out with emergency services levy

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke meeting with council representatives.
Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke meeting with council representatives.

The NSW Government will help fund the increase in the emergency services levy for Cowra Shire Council.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said all of her electorate's nine Councils would receive funding to assist them to pay the increase in the emergency services levy this financial year to help support firefighters with cancer.

"The Government acknowledges that this additional cost presented some challenges for our local councils," Ms Cooke said.

"We also acknowledge that our local councils had already set their 2019-20 Budgets before the invoices for the increased emergency services levy were issued and this has caused some angst.

"That's why the Government will provide $605,702 across all nine Local Government Areas (in the Cootamundra electorate) this financial year to alleviate the immediate pressure on our local councils," she added.

Earlier this year Cowra Mayor, Councillor Bill West pointed out that council had repeatedly asked the government to consult before imposing the increase.

"It's disappointing that there's not more information being provided other than sending us an email or a letter or a memo that basically says 'guess what, happy news, you can pay it," Cr West said in May.

Cr Bruce Miller said one of the main issues with the increase was the timing, with many councils across NSW having finalised budgets when they were notified of the increase.

Shadow Minister for Local Government Greg Warren said the decision by the NSW Liberals and Nationals announcement regarding the Fire Emergency Services Levy was a "cruel and crafty hoax" on local government.

"This is a crafty and cruel hoax on local government with the Berejiklian Government just kicking the can down the road for another year," Mr Warren said.

"This is not a fix. It is not a long-term plan.

"The Berejiklian Government is just giving the impression that it is bowing to pressure and the matter is still unresolved after more than two years."