A new report has found that ratepayers on the Northern Beaches were out of pocket $39 million in the 2021-22 financial year – or $379 per ratepayer – which it attributed to cost shifting from the New South Wales Government. 

The figures are derived using the methodology from the latest cost shifting report produced by independent consultants, Morrison Low on behalf of Local Government New South Wales (LGNSW) for the 2021-22 financial year which calculated an amount of $1.36 billion in costs has been passed on to councils across New South Wales. 

This is an increase of $540 million since the last report from the 2017-18 financial year. 

The Cost Shifting Report reveals Northern Beaches Council paid the highest Emergency Services Levy in 2021-22 at $6.4 million ($62 per ratepayer), which is 28 per cent more than the next highest Council (Central Coast Council at $5 million). Council’s Emergency Services Levy has increased to $9.3 million in the 2023-24 financial year, equivalent to $90 per ratepayer.

Northern Beaches Council has said that it will write to the New South Wales Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Local Government requesting that they urgently seek to address the costs through a combination of regulatory reform, budgetary provision and appropriate funding.

Northern Beaches Council Mayor, Sue Heins, said that increasing cost shifting puts a huge burden on the financial stability of local government. 

“Every dollar we pay in levies and subsidies to the State Government, is one less dollar we can put into our local roads and footpaths, our parks and community centres or our libraries and events programs,” Mayor Heins said. 

“Put simply, it constrains our ability to maintain our community infrastructure and sustain the same level of service to our community. Our Asset Management Plan (2022-2032) identifies an infrastructure funding gap of $151 million over ten years. 

“This is further exacerbated by recent high inflation and the $3.1 million increase in costs to Council associated with the Emergency Services Levy this financial year.

“Our community deserves better and this must stop. 

“I encourage the government to consider how this cost shifting is resulting in lost services, lost opportunity and lost amenity for New South Wales residents and businesses and do something to fix it.”

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