The state government has reversed its decision to charge local councils an increased emergency services levy this year.
Councils currently pay 11.7 per cent of the budget required by NSW emergency services, but this year the government planned to collect an additional $13.6 million to help volunteer and career firefighters diagnosed with one of 12 work-related cancers.
However, earlier this week, acting Premier John Barilaro and Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock said the 128 NSW councils would not have to pay the hike this financial year.
Goulburn Mulwaree Mayor Bob Kirk and general manager Warwick Bennett lobbied the government about the increase after it was revealed the council would pay an extra $100,000 this year. The levy is about $600,000 over four years.
Mr Bennett said the council understood the need for insurance protection but objected to its timing after budgets were set.
Yass Valley Mayor Rowena Abbey also met with Minister Hancock at the end of June, on behalf of all regional councils in NSW, to request the increase be deferred for at least a year.
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She asked the government to consult with councils about how the increase would be implemented in the future, "acknowledging the cost to rural ratepayers already under pressure with the drought."
"We want it separate to the rate peg so that it is clear to the ratepayers what the additional fee is for: supporting the fire services to assist with cancer and other health conditions," she said.
The NSW government had faced pressure over the levy rise for months, having introduced it after local councils had adopted their budgets for this financial year.
Local Government NSW - the peak body representing councils - warned that councils faced significant and unplanned budget shortfalls. It welcomed the reversal.
Across the Goulburn electorate, the levy would have cost local councils $500,000 this financial year.
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