CABONNE residents may have to pay more in rates if council is forced to pay an extraordinary increase in contributions to the Rural Fire Service (RFS).
Cabonne Council may have to pay the RFS an allocation of $226,601 in the 2010/11 financial year to cover “program charges” relating to administration expenses, which allegedly amount to $2,204,227 for the Canobolas zone.
The allocation is $74,570 more than what Cabonne had initially outlined in the 2010/11 budget.
The increase follows the Royal Commission into the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires and the announcement of a $106.9 million bushfire protection package.
Locals face a 1 per cent rate increase to help council cover the cost.
This would prove difficult for council, with rates already pegged to increase by only 2.8 per cent in 2011/12.
Many local governments across the state have indicated they will struggle with such a small increase, with many expecting to go into debt or cut services.
At yesterday’s extraordinary meeting Cabonne Council decided to withhold any additional RFS contributions that had not been outlined in the 2010/11 budget until the issue was further examined.
Cabonne mayor Bob Dowling said cutting RFS services would be council’s last resort.
“I’m sure our number one priority is not to cut services,” he said.
“If we do have to pay an extra amount we have to find it somewhere.”
Cr Dowling referred to the increase as a further example of cost shifting onto local councils and ratepayers.
“We would like to comprehend why it is such a significant increase,” he said.
Certain councils across the state have seen their contributions decreased.