Shaun McBride
Senior Strategy Manager
Phone: 02 9242 4072
[email protected]

Bushfire along Bells Line of Road.

Emergency Services Levy

LGNSW is calling on all councils to support representations to the NSW Government in response to the highly damaging increase in the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) imposed on all councils without warning for the 2023/24 financial year.

The ESL represents cost shifting at its worse, as it is imposed on councils without any mechanism for councils to recover costs.

The levy increase for the State’s 128 councils in 2023/24 amounts to almost $77 million, with the total cost imposed on the local government sector increasing from $143 million in the current financial year to $219 million next year. This represents a 53.1% increase, completely dwarfing the IPART baseline rate peg of 3.7% for 2023/24.

The impact of these large increases on councils’ finances will be particularly severe in 2023/24 as a result of the NSW Government deciding to scrap the subsidy for council ESL payments.

For many councils, the unexpected cost hit will absorb almost all of their IPART-approved rate rise and in some cases absorb more than 100%. This is placing local government budgets under enormous pressure as they struggle from the combined impact of the pandemic, extreme weather events, high inflation and wage increases.

IPART-approved rate rises are intended to compensate for the impacts of inflation and increases in council costs. Instead, the rate increase will have to be largely diverted to the significantly higher ESL payments this year. NSW councils will have no option other than to make cuts to infrastructure and services expenditure.

All councils strongly support a well-funded emergency services sector and the critical contribution of emergency services workers and volunteers (many of whom are councillors and council staff). However, it is essential that these services be supported through an equitable, transparent and sustainable funding model.

Local Government NSW has raised the serious concerns of the local government sector with the NSW Government and is seeking the support of councils across NSW in amplifying this advocacy.

Help LGNSW advocate for the NSW Government to take urgent action, by using the templates below to:

Resolve a mayoral minute

Write a letter
(to the Treasurer, Minister for Local Government, Minister for Emergency Services and your local State MP(s)

Write a letter
(to the chair of IPART)