Vet­eran fire­fighter hoses down levy plan

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - Pierra Wil­lix

Shire of Au­gusta-Margaret River coun­cil­lor and vet­eran fire­fighter Ian Earl has shot down rec­om­mended changes to the Emer­gency Ser­vices Levy col­lected from ratepay­ers ev­ery year.

The Eco­nomic Reg­u­la­tion Author­ity re­cently pre­sented its fi­nal re­port on the levy, rec­om­mend­ing an in­de­pen­dent body be set up to over­see the fund, rather than the Depart­ment of Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices.

Cr Earl told the Times he didn’t support the rec­om­men­da­tion be­cause DFES had a good re­la­tion­ship with Capes brigades.

“We have never had is­sues with them and I think there is a bit of a smoke screen out there about this,” he said.

In its sub­mis­sion on the re­view, the Shire of Au­gusta Margaret River said it sup­ported the cur­rent man­age­ment of the fund, but asked for im­proved trans­parency on how the levy was cal­cu­lated and ex­plained to ratepay­ers in the dark about the rea­son for the an­nual charge.

The Shire rec­om­mended an in­de­pen­dent re­view to im­prove ac­count­abil­ity and fi­nan­cial pro­bity of the fund­ing and said the dis­tri­bu­tion of funds could be ap­proved by an in­de­pen­dent ar­biter.

The ERA re­port also found the es­ti­mated cost of a sin­gle ex­tra ru­ral fire sta­tion with 30 paid ca­reer fire­fight­ers would be about $4.5 mil­lion a year if funded by the levy.

Capes fire­fight­ers have pre­vi­ously ar­gued against a new ru­ral bushfire ser­vice.

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