Lack of support for councils facing Emergency Services Levy increase "disgraceful" in context of surplus, says WSROC president

The lack of support for councils facing increases to the Emergency Services Levy was "disgraceful" in the context of the State Government's $1 billion budget surplus, according to Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) president Barry Calvert.

Hawkesbury Mayor Cr Calvert issued a statement in the wake of Treasurer Dominic Perrottet handing down his third budget today (Tuesday), saying while the State Government had upheld previous commitments to investment in western Sydney inaction on key issues impacting local councils was "disappointing".

Help needed: Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) president and Hawkesbury MP Barry Calvert. Picture: Geoff Jones.

Help needed: Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) president and Hawkesbury MP Barry Calvert. Picture: Geoff Jones.

"Local councils have been left high and dry responding to NSW's waste and recycling crisis; we have been struck with last minute Emergency Services Levy increases; and in the context of rate-capping, are struggling to keep up with delivering services needed by our growing communities," he stated.

"This budget offers no support for councils facing increases to the Emergency Services Levy, despite the significant impact this will have on council budgets.

"In the context of a $1 billion surplus, this is disgraceful. It is not local government's role to fund the NSW Government's budget surpluses.

"There are limits to what local governments can afford."

Cr Calvert said the government had also taken a "business-as-usual" approach to waste management.

"No additional funding was allocated to support much-needed planning for local and sustainable management of waste," he said.

"Unfortunately, alleviation of western Sydney's road-dependence and its associated impact on liveability has also not been prioritised in this budget. WSROC and other organisations have called for acceleration of public transport investment, including Stage Two Parramatta Light Rail, and it is, again, disappointing to see there was no additional funding for this essential link.

However, WSROC has welcomed the government's $162 million in public open space among other initiatives, urging it to consult with its members on the implementation of the investment.

"The NSW Government has upheld its City Deal commitments with investment in local council projects, including rejuvenation of Hawkesbury's historic town centres and upgrade of the Fairfield Showground, $15 million for community initiatives in the Blue Mountains, and a new recreational hub in Lurnea," said Cr Calvert.

"Western Sydney commuters will welcome the promised $50 Opal card cap. This has been an ongoing priority for WSROC since the cap was removed in 2016.

"It would be even more beneficial if western Sydney communities could also look forward to acceleration of the Western Sydney Transport Network, which will improve public transport access across the region.

"WSROC looks forward to working with the NSW Government to deliver more liveable, sustainable western Sydney communities, however councils must be equal partners in the process. Priorities such as waste management and community planning require a coordinated response from all levels of government and demand a proportional level of investment."