The NSW Country Mayors Association has welcomed the news that the state government will cover the increased cost of the NSW Emergency Services Levy for this financial year.
Earlier this year, the state government announced it would be raising the emergency services levy to help fund better workers' compensation coverage for firefighters diagnosed with work-related cancer or other diseases caused as a result of the duties they are required to perform.
The last-minute increase was going to see councils have to cough up tens of thousands of dollars, which they hadn't budgeted for.
READ MORE: NSW councils get one year levy reprieve
"After most councils had completed their draft budget for this financial year, they got a letter from the state government saying they've got to pay X amount to cover this new scheme," Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said.
"I received phone calls immediately from each of the six councils in the Northern Tablelands concerned about what local services they would have to cut to fund this increase.
"This decision was sprung on councils without any notice and was going to drastically impact the level of services councils would deliver to their communities at a time when everyone is struggling financially due to drought.
"I am delighted common-sense and the strength of our argument has prevailed and this extra expense will now be picked up by the state government."
NSW Country Mayors Association chair and Moree mayor Katrina Humphries said the state government's decision to cover the cost was "very fair".
"The Country Mayors Association has taken a strong stance on this issue and encouraged all councils to talk to their local MPs to campaign against this levy hike," she said.
"Most councils were happy to pay the existing levy plus CPI, but not the increase. If councils were going to pay, we'd have to cut something out of our budget, which flew in the face of the government's Fit for the Future reforms.
"This is a sensible and welcome result that will be a huge relief to our council and many others. It's the result of local members listening to their communities.
"I look forward to the government resolving the issue in advance for next year."
The financial impacts of the increase, which will now be covered by the government, would have been:
- Armidale Regional Council $153,032
- Moree Plains Shire Council $85,678
- Gwydir Shire Council $76,898
- Glen Innes Severn Council $74,768
- Inverell Shire Council $69,979
- Uralla Shire Council $3,046