News

First citizen knows fire fighting

It’s rare for Keith Rhoades to be caught out not wearing one of his trademark hats.
It’s rare for Keith Rhoades to be caught out not wearing one of his trademark hats. Rob Wright/Coffs Coast Advocate

WEARING three hats gives 'first citizen' Keith Rhoades a unique insight into long time endeavours to change funding methods for fire fighting.

As Mayor of Coffs Harbour City Council (CHCC), President of the Local Government and Shires Association of NSW (LGSA) and Sawtell Fire Station Commander, Councillor Rhoades might have difficulty knowing which way to turn.

Instead, he's firm in the opinion that a state-wide property levy is the fairest way to help fund local fire stations, the Rural Fire Service (RFS) and the State Emergency Service (SES).

"For many years, we at the LGSA have bashed our heads against the wall trying to get a succession of state governments to look at our proposal and the reasons why we want the change, with little response," he said.

"However, we seem to be getting a positive hearing at last, especially after lobbying (Nationals MLC) Melinda Pavey.

"What we are proposing is a much fairer way to fund the services."

Under a longstanding agreement, CHCC contributes 12.5% of the cost to run fire stations at Woolgoolga, Coffs Harbour and Sawtell.

It contributes the same percentage to fund local Rural Fire Service activities while a similar financial structure has been introduced over the past two years with the SES.

The NSW Government matches council contributions with a further 12.5% but the bulk of funding comes from a fire levy built into insurance policies.

"The problem here is that not all property owners have taken out insurance, so the burden is falling more often on local government," Cr Rhoades said.

"In the west of the state and around southern NSW almost all of the cost is being put back on the councils and that is increasingly becoming unsustainable.

"So the LGSA is proposing a broad-based property levy on all premises, irrespective of whether or not they are covered by insurance.

"It would be much fairer and spread the burden around evenly."

The obvious drawback comes for those who do insure their properties suddenly finding another cost added on but Cr Rhoades maintains this will not apply under any new levy.

"Property owners already contribute through their rates but this would lessen if the LGSA can convince the government of the need to switch over to a broad-based levy," he added.

"Look, if a property owner isn't insured and has the misfortune to have a fire, the big red truck will still head down the road to his place but the person with insurance and paying rates will be picking up most of the freight.

"But with a levy, everybody shares part of the cost and we think that's a much better way."

Topics:  emergency services, fire fighting, keith rhoades



Locals dance up a storm at Buskers

LOCAL & LIVELY: See local acts like the Julie Ross dancers at Buskers Kids' Day.

THE Buskers Festival attracts star acts

Underpaid blueberry pickers forced to work 36 days straight

Blueberry farm

WORKERS on a Coffs Coast farm were forced to work 36 days straight

App shows cheapest fuel stops

Lady pumping gasoline fuel in car at gas station.

Motorists will now be able to find to find the cheapest petrol

Latest deals and offers

That's a wrap: Gympie Muster celebrates 35 years in style

Caitlyn Shadbolt performs at the Muster Club on Sunday August 28 at the Gympie Muster.

Country music festival blessed with great weather and bumper crowds

Julia and Sasha top The Block's leaderboard

Julia and Sasha in their winning master en-suite in a scene from The Block.

FIRST room reveals of the season deliver mixed results.

What's on the small screen this week

Bella Frizza in a scene from the TV series Married At First Sight.

THE Block's $65,000 bathroom is revealed and strangers marry.

MOVIE REVIEW: Life on the Road

Ricky Gervais, Ben Bailey Smith and Foregone Conclusion (Steve Clarke, Andy Burrows, Stuart Baxter Wilkinson, Michael Clarke) in a scene from David Brent: Life on the Road.

Ricky Gervais has brought David Brent back to life on the big screen

Jessica Alba wants tequila shots served at her funeral

Businesswoman and actor Jessica Alba

There won't be mourning at this funeral

Tom Hiddleston's Instagram account hacked

Actor Tom Hiddleston

Thor star the latest celebrity targetted by hackers

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m