NSW councils fear potential cost-shift

Article image -  NSW councils fear potential cost-shift

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has expressed concerns about a lack of consultation on the Emergency Services Property Levy (ESPL) and the potential shift of costs from state to local government.

The state levy is due to be released in coming months, but WSROC said councils have not been sufficiently consulted.

WSROC President, Councillor Tony Hadchiti said, “In December last year, the New South Wales 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.

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

The levy helps fund emergency services including police, Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Service.

Cr Hadchiti said the average cost of the ESPL to homeowners is expected to be around $160 per year, but could be more.

“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 Cr Hadchiti.

“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.

“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.

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