Mayor welcomes surprise Government back-down on emergency levy

Recent State Government back-down on introduction of a Council-collected emergency levy for all land-owners in NSW has been welcomed by Cowra Mayor, Councillor Bill West.

The levy was shelved indefinitely following concerns that it represented a disproportionate economic penalty on ratepayers as well as an administration burden on local government.

The new levy was to replace an annual insurance-industry impost added to private house, property, and business insurance in NSW.

"We support a broad-based State-wide emergency levy in-principle, but we always felt that the legislation had been rushed through with little thought over its impact on residents, ratepayers, and the local councils that would be required to collect it," Cr West explained.

"For some time, Cowra Council has argued that implementing a property-based emergency services levy to be paid alongside council rates had not been properly thought-through."

The new levy was set to come into effect on July 1 to replace the Emergency Services Levy on insurance policies. It would have meant all land-owners would have paid a contribution to fire and emergency services with the levy attached to council rates.

"Replacement of the existing Emergency Services Levy on insurance policies with this new levy to be collected by local government on behalf of the State was rushed into law despite a lack of meaningful consultation with local government," Cr West explained.

"There remained a considerable number of unanswered questions around this new levy and its administration that were never clarified," Cr West added.

In announcing the shelving of the levy, NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian said the new system aimed to make it fairer for all, but the modelling received from NSW Treasury was wrong.