Councils to become tax collectors with Victoria’s new bushfire levy
Councils around Victoria were given one Tweet warning that they had just become tax collectors under the State Government’s new bushfire levy scheme. Hear the response and hear from deputy Premier Peter Ryan, and Opposition leader on Daniel Andrews on the State Government’s new policy for funding our fire services.
Rob Spence, Municipal Association of Victoria chief executive, says the local government sector does not want to become tax collectors for the State Government.
“In a practical sense the local government sector will become the face of the fire services levy and have to deal with the issues the community has about and have to deal with the complaints and the management of it,” he told ABC Victoria Statewide Drive.
Mr Spence says the sector and its ratepayers should not have to pay for the administration of the levy, and that any plans the State Government has to compensate the sector had not been communicated.
“We’re put in a position where we’ve got to now negotiate how the thing will operate after the event.”
Mr Spence says the fire services levy should be collected by the Victorian State Revenue Office.
Deputy Premier Peter Ryan says the State Government will cover the costs of administering the levy.
“With a view to a one off payment to local government so they don’t incur a cost and an ongoing maintenance payment to make sure they can deal with in the manner we want to have happen but without cost to ratepayers.”
He says the new fire services levy will be a more equitable way of funding Victoria’s fire services.
“Everybody who owns property in the state of Victoria will contribute in some way or other to the raising of the fire service levy, which in turn is necessary to fund the fire services of Victoria,” Mr Ryan told ABC Statewide Drive.
The fire services levy is currently collected by insurers and passed on to the State Government, so those who are not insured do not pay for fire services, even if they benefit from services provided by the Country Fire Authority and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.
From next July, the levy will be paid by all property owners and businesses through council rates.
Homeowners will pay a fixed amount of $100 per residential household and $200 per business, as well as a variable fee based on a property’s value.
People who are currently insured will no longer pay for the levy through their insurance premiums and will instead pay a reduced fire services levy through their council rates.
State Opposition leader Daniel Andrews says the State Government must provide greater certainty that a property-based levy system will not leave people worse off.
“I think there will be some that will be better off, undoubtedly some will be worse off.”