President's Message



Phone: 02 9242 4000 
[email protected]

LGNSW President Cr Darriea Turley AM.

02 May 2023

Emergency Services Levy

Councils right across NSW are reeling this week after learning the new NSW Government will not subsidise the increase in the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) this year.

This decision will have a catastrophic impact on council budgets, with the ESL contribution by councils totalling somewhere around $77 million.

The decision comes late in the council budgeting cycle and well after the IPART rate peg determination for 2023-24. For some of us, the unexpected cost hit will all but wipe out any IPART-approved rate rise, but for all it will shred budgets already under massive pressure from the combined impact of the pandemic, extreme weather events, high inflation and wage increases.

Hardest hit will be the rural and regional councils with small rate bases and a relatively large RFS component. Many councils in regional areas and those on the urban fringe also carry a large RFS component and a large NSW Fire and Rescue component, raising costs further.

This shock increase comes at a time when council budgets are still struggling with disaster recovery – and when you factor in the inflation and soaring costs we are all facing across the full gamut of our operations, the immediate future looks particularly bleak.

To put that in perspective, Hay Shire Council will immediately lose 88.6% of its approved rate rise to the ESL, while Bourke Shire Council will lose 94%, Yass Valley Council will lose 96%, and Tenterfield will lose 119%. Hornsby council will lose about 75% of its approved rate rise.

We are urgently calling on the Government to:

  • restore the subsidy for 2023
  • unshackle this payment from council rates
  • develop a fairer, more transparent and financially sustainable method of funding the critically important emergency services that benefit us all.

I have sought an urgent meeting with the new Treasurer to discuss this issue, and will keep members informed. In the meantime, you can read our media release.

Annual Member’s Survey

Our advocacy is membership driven, via resolutions passed at our Annual Conference, Board input and, importantly, our annual survey of members.

I’d urge all members to keep an eye out for this year’s survey, which should have landed in your mailbox on Thursday. If you missed it, we’ll be sending a reminder out on 12 May.

This short survey requires just 5-10 minutes of your time, but will help ensure your individual input is included in the development of our advocacy priorities and member services. The more input we receive, the more we can ensure we provide councils with the support they need, when they need it.

Skills and training

I was pleased to see the federal government announce it would invest up to an addition $3.7 billion for a five-year National Skills Agreement to be negotiated with states and territories, alongside a further $400 million to support another 300,000 TAFE and VET fee-free places.

Increased investment is consistent with our ongoing advocacy and so important in addressing the acute skills shortages our councils and the broader community are facing, as demonstrated in the 2022 Local Government Workforce Skills and Capability Survey.

Cost shifting survey - reminder

Reminder! Your cost shifting surveys are due to be returned to LGNSW by Monday 8 May.

The surveys have been emailed to all general managers to direct these to the appropriate council staff for actioning.

Please email [email protected] if you have any queries or require assistance for this critical piece of work that is so important to our advocacy for improved financial sustainability for local government.

Bus Industry Taskforce – what improvements does your council seek?

I was pleased to be invited this week to represent the local government sector as a member of the NSW Government’s new Bus Industry Taskforce.

The focus of the taskforce will be the quality and reliability of bus services across NSW and the effectiveness of the current networks in meeting the range of community needs.

Arrangements relating to bus services for special events, emergency and planned replacement services will also be considered.

The taskforce will prepare an interim report within 10 weeks, with a final report to be tabled in May 2024 for consideration by Cabinet.

View the full terms of reference

I would welcome mayors and councillors providing input about improvements and changes you and your communities seek to bus services. Please email any feedback to [email protected].


Darriea sign-off