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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Bring back emergency services subsidy, Hatcher

Eurobodalla Mayor Mathew Hatcher says unexpected cost shifting by the NSW Government means Council faces a massive increase in its emergency services budget.

“Let me be clear. This is not a fight against our brilliant emergency services workers. It’s a fight against an unsustainable levy when we’re already struggling to deliver services,” Cr Hatcher said.

Under the Emergency Services Levy Act 2017, the state government collects funds to support the RFS, SES and Fire and Rescue. The majority of funds comes from the insurance industry, with councils contributing 11.7 percent and the NSW government 14.6 percent.

Since 2019 the state had provided councils with a subsidy to offset the rapidly rising levies it collected from councils – this subsidy has been removed for 2023-24.

“Our levy for next year is $1,498,678. On paper, that’s a 12 percent increase over this year’s bill but in reality – with the subsidy removed – it’s a 55 percent increase,” Cr Hatcher said.

“Meanwhile our ability to increase rates has been limited to 4.3 percent for the same period.”

At the general meeting of Council on Tuesday 9 May councillors unanimously supported a multipronged approach to restoring equity in funding the state’s emergency services.

“We’ll advocate to the premier, relevant ministers, and our local member to reinstate the subsidy,” Cr Hatcher said.

“We’ll lend support to our representative body, Local Government NSW, to do the same as it lobbies for a fairer, sustainable emergency services funding model. And we’ll be advising the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal of the additional financial stress Council faces thanks to a levy that is manifestly disproportionate to our allowable rate increase.”

Cr Hatcher said Council had already filled Eurobodalla’s Local Emergency Management Officer role as required under the State Emergency Plan and would also lobby for the NSW Government to fund that mandated position as well.


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