"This was the most flagrant cost-shifting exercise by a state government in many years," said Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) President, Barry Calvert.
The peak body representing councils in Greater Western Sydney has denounced the NSW Government's decision to stop contributing to the NSW Emergency Services Levy, calling the move "a catastrophe for Western Sydney councils."
"Which will burden cash-strapped councils with tens of millions of dollars of extra costs while they are still reeling in the aftermath of unprecedented floods, fires and other natural disasters," said Cr Calvert.
The funds raised by the Emergency Services Levy are used to support the work of the NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW State Emergency Service, and NSW Fire and Rescue Service.
Insurance companies pay 73.7 per cent of the levy, while the NSW Government pays 14.6 per cent and local councils 11.7 per cent.
Cr Calvert said the ability of Western Sydney councils to raise funds is "strictly limited by rate-pegging".
"Councils cannot readily increase their revenue to accommodate the extra tens of millions of dollars now needed to fund the levy," he said.
"For some councils, the unexpected cost hit will cripple budgets already under massive pressure from the combined impact of the pandemic, extreme weather events, and high-cost inflation."
WSROC are urging the Government to: restore the NSW Emergency Services Levy subsidy for 2023, and develop a fairer, more transparent, and financially sustainable method of funding the "critically important" emergency services.
Cr Calvert said Western Sydney councils' resource services for other areas - including community services, local libraries, environment services, infrastructure plans, parks and recreational facilities, environmental health services - will be severely impacted by the decision.
He added the NSW Government was abandoning its responsibilities to local councils in a "mean-spirited, penny-pinching way".
"The people of Greater Western Sydney have immense respect and admiration for our emergency services workers, who have been our saviours so often in the last couple of years," he said.
WSROC is calling on the NSW Government to refer the the financial and funding arrangements between NSW Local Government and he NSW and Commonwealth Governments to the panel that completed the 'NSW Review of Federal Financial Relations'.
"To examine how NSW local government and the NSW and Commonwealth Government can work together to build a stronger economy, encourage reform across all three levels of government, and ultimately, deliver better value for ratepayers and residents," said Cr Calvert
"Local government has been - and continues to be - subject to arbitrary constraints on its ability to levy fees and charges, is hampered by complicated funding arrangements and partnerships with the Commonwealth and NSW Governments that can change at the whim of either.
"The challenge for the NSW Government and local councils is to identify ways that can improve the system and at the same time promotes a stable and reliable revenue base to fund essential services and infrastructure into the future."