Dungog Shire Council’s General Manager Craig Deasey has raised serious concerns about decisions made by the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) which is set to increase council’s deficit by more than $161,000.
NSW Councils are required to make annual rural fire service contributions.
For the 2016/2017 financial year, the RFS is calculating these program charges on the basis of a four year moving average.
Councillors have been told this new way of calculation means the council’s component to the Lower Hunter Zone will be $30,000 more than budgeted.
But the most dramatic change is that the council’s ability to recover 11.7 per cent of the program charges has been abolished and the council received a reduced payment for the 2014/15 program without notice.
In a report top the council’s meeting this month, Mr Deasey said the council still had not received any formal advice regarding the phasing in of the new charges.
“This is a significant shift and is contrary to the NSW Government decision of 2002 to refund to council’s the 11.7 per cent component of the statewide program charges excluding insurance,” he said
“It effectively has meant a financial windfall to the NSWRFS at the expense of councils.
“However the underlying issue is that despite years of aggravation by councils, the NSWRFS still does not have a 10 year financial plan as regards tanker replacements. They are apparently working on the development of such during the current financial year.
“There are clearly broken lines of communication within the NSWRFS and also the LGNSW as there has been no advice provided to councils from the Advisory Council.”
Mr Deasey has raised his concerns in writing to the NSW Commissioner and other councils in the Lower Hunter Zone.
At the council’s general meeting on November 15, the council moved to make representation to the Local Member, the Minister for Emergency Services and the executives of the LGNSW.