LEETON Shire Council mayor Tony Reneker is cautiously optimistic an overhaul of the state's emergency services levy (ESL) will provide a fairer outcome for all.
The levy is used to fund fire and emergency services agencies, but the current model is complex and much of the heavy lifting is done by local government.
Leeton shire and numerous other councils across the state have long called for changes to be made to the levy and how it is collected.
Last week, the state government announced it will be undertaking reform of the levy to "ensure a fairer, more sustainable system for the state's emergency services".
"At current, the levy is included in our council rates, so people don't know how much they are paying or how much of their rates are going to the ESL," councillor Reneker said.
"We want a separate line item on the rates notice saying what it is and how much it is. What happened last year, there was a big increase in the ESL and half of our rate peg went just to the ESL."
A rate peg is the amount council can increase its rates each year by as set by Independent Pricing and and Regulatory Tribunal.
Under the existing model, insurance policy holders contribute 73.7 per cent of the ESL.
Local councils contribute 11.7 per cent and the state government contributes 14.6 per cent.
NSW is the only mainland state that uses a levy on insurers to fund emergency services.
Cr Reneker maintained emergency services was a state responsibility and said it wasn't fair for insurance holders and ratepayers to be hit twice by the levy.
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"If you're paying insurance and through your rates, whether that's fair or not ... I would say many would think it isn't," Cr Reneker said.
"Emergency services is a state government issue ... it should be our taxes paying for it and not our local ratepayers paying for it."
The ESL levy is estimated to increase the cost of household insurance by 18 per cent on average.
President of Local Government NSW Cr Darriea Turley said a review of the levy collection methodology was long overdue.
"Councils have been shouldering the burden of the increased cost of emergency services for too long," Cr Turley said.
"This has made it incredibly difficult for councils to budget and provide the services ratepayers expect.
"Presently the state's 128 councils collect 11.7% of the finances which fund emergency services Fire and Rescue, the Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Service.
"Collecting the levy via council rates has to stop."
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