Georges River Council slugged extra $227,000 in emergency services levy hike

Little warning: The State Government has increased the Emergency Services Levy to cover changes to workers compensation for volunteer and career firefighters.
Little warning: The State Government has increased the Emergency Services Levy to cover changes to workers compensation for volunteer and career firefighters.

Georges River Council will be slugged an extra $227,000 this financial year for its emergency services levy, bringing its contribution for the year to $2.34million.

The council was only advised this month by NSW Revenue of the increased levy despite the new laws being passed in November last year.

NSW Revenue also warned another increase next financial year.

The increase is 11 per cent more than this year's contribution and will require the council to amend its draft 2019-20 budget to accommodate the increase.

The council is expected to write to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian calling on the State Government to fund the first 12 months of the extra cost as council as budgets have already been allocated.

Unless the State Government agrees, the council will have to change its budget and find the funds through increases in fees and charges, cuts in services or a reduction in expenditure.

"The impact of this unplanned cost will certainly be felt by the community," according to a report to go to next week's council meeting.

The State Government has increased the Emergency Services Levy without consultation to cover changes to workers compensation for volunteer and career firefighters to cover one of 12 specific work-related cancers.

While local government strongly supports the expanded workers compensation scheme, Georges River Council is objecting to the late notice.

The council will explain to the State Government how this sudden increase will impact on council services and the local community.

A council report describes the lack of consultation and short notice of the increase as poor planning by the State Government.

"There is little or no time to include this charge in council's exhibited 2019/20 budgets," the council report states.

Local Government NSW has called on the State Government to cover the initial additional $19 million to local councils for the first year.

LG NSW has also called on the government to work with NSW councils to redesign the funding mechanism for the scheme to ensure fairness into the future.

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