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Wollongong Council says #NoNewTax for NSW fire service funding | Illawarra Mercury #FBEU

Councils should not be responsible for collecting a proposed new state government tax to fund emergency services, Wollongong City Council staff have recommended.

The NSW government revealed in July plans to overhaul the way Fire and Rescue NSW, the Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Service are funded, flagging the proposed introduction of a state-wide levy on land values.

The scheme, similar to local government rates, would replace the current system whereby taxes on insurance companies fund the bulk of the costs (almost 74 per cent) and local and state governments make up the rest (11.7 per cent and 14.6 per cent respectively).

In a response to the government’s discussion paper on the issue, Wollongong council staff have advised councillors to oppose any move to have the tax collected at a local government level for fear of backlash towards the council.

“It is recommended that the council support the collection of this levy by the Office of State Revenue, thus removing any opportunity to damage council’s reputation,” a report to be debated at next Monday’s council meeting said.

“There would be a perception that this cost to the resident is related to the council.

“It must be clearly articulated that local government has no responsibility for these costs.”

Council staff have also recommended that councillors back different tax rates for country and city areas and a concession rate for pensioners.

Financial figures show the council paid the state government $3.1 million in emergency-service levies during 2011/12.

The council also pays for the maintenance of RFS and SES property and vehicles.

The state government described the current system as “inefficient” and “unfair”, saying uninsured or under-insured people received the same access to emergency services as those who contributed to the levy via their insurance.

A property-based levy system is used to fund emergency services in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the ACT.

via Council fears backlash over new tax | Illawarra Mercury.

About Darin Sullivan (1969 Articles)
President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union and a professional firefighter with more than 25 years’ experience. I live and work on the NSW South Coast, Australia. I am a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around me. I am a Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and work with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist I have long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. I am a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and have 30 years experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. I am passionate about highlighting the impact climate change is having on fire preparedness and fire behaviour in Australia, and the risks associated with inaction on climate change. I am also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.
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