Nambucca Shire Council got a nasty shock recently when it received an invoice from Revenue NSW for $431,106 being its share of the statewide emergency services levy contribution.
This was $74,000 (20 per cent) more than the previous year, arriving after the completion of the annual budget process.
The increase is related to legislation designed to address a shortfall in workers' compensation that was passed in November, however local government was not told it would have to cover the $19 million cost via the emergency services levy and only found out this month how much it would be.
The additional funds are for volunteer and career firefighters who are diagnosed with one of 12 specific work-related cancers.
The mayor, Rhonda Hoban, said while the council supported career and volunteer emergency service workers and the new legislation, the manner in which this change had been implemented was not acceptable.
The council resolved to support Local Government NSW's call for the Government to cover the initial $19 million increase for the first year and to redesign the funding mechanism to make it fairer.
Cr Hoban intends to follow this up with letters to the Premier and associated ministers asking for an explanation for the poor planning and implementation, which she said was "inconsistent with the Government's commitment to work in partnership with local government".
Nambucca Shire, along with other NSW councils, is also calling for the proposed property-based emergency services levy to be reintroduced.
"This is a much more equitable approach and is how the system operates in other states," she said.