Veteran firefighter hoses down levy plan
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.