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State government slammed over fire levy black hole

The state government has come under fire for slugging Campbelltown Council with an unexpected $170,000 bill.

This is just the latest example of this dictatorial government telling councils to clean up their mess,’’ says Campbelltown MP Greg Warren, who is also Labor’s local government spokesman.

“There was no warning or consultation regarding this increase, which was made after councils had finalised their 2019-20 budgets,’’ he said.

“It means Campbelltown will have to find an extra $170,000 from somewhere – and that is no easy task.’’

 In May, the state government told councils – without any warning or consultation – that they would need to foot the bill for a $19 million black hole in the Fire Emergency Services Levy.

The announcement was made after councils had finalised their 2019-20 budgets.

Consequently, councils will likely have to slash services of rise rates to cover the unexpected cost.

Mr Warren said in the end it would be ratepayers – including those in Campbelltown – who paid the price for the Liberal state government’s incompetence.

The extra $170,000 means Campbelltown Council will now be forced to pay $1.77 million a year – an increase of 10.6 per cent.

The funding shortfall was caused by the government’s backflip in 2017, when the Premier shelved plans to move the levy from insurance premiums to council rates due to their inability to get the numbers right.

Instead, the government decided it would be up to local councils and insurance policy holders to foot the bill.

An independent parliamentary committee found the increase was “a poor public policy decision, undertaken without adequate understanding of the complexities of the issue, or the impacts of the proposed reforms”.

“Many councils will be forced to slash services or rise rates as a result of this disgraceful decision,’’ Mr Warren said.

“Ultimately this means it will be ratepayers who pay the price for the state government’s incompetence.”

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