‘Fairer’ fire levy system

Latrobe City rates notices sent out after 1 July will carry an extra charge as part of the new State Government fire services levy.

Instead of fire taxes being paid only by those who take out building and contents insurance, all property owners will now be required to contribute.

A fixed charge of $100 will be paid by owners of residential properties, while all other properties will incur a fee of $200, plus a charge based on the capital improved value of that property.

Farmers with more than one property used for a single enterprise will pay the fixed charged only once, and pensioners and veterans will be eligible for a $50 concession.

Latrobe City chief executive Paul Buckley said the charges were not additional revenue for the council, rather it acted purely as an agent to collect the money on behalf of the State Government.

“This will mean that the rates notices will look a little different to previous years,” Mr Buckley said.

“There’ll be some administrative work involved and councils are being financially supported to provide that additional work to administer the process.”

Funds from the levy go towards staff, training, infrastructure and equipment for firefighting agencies.

In announcing the details of the reform, the State Government welcomed the new system as a ‘fairer’ model.

“The fire services protect all Victorians whether or not they are insured, so it is not fair that only those who insure building and contents make a contribution,” Treasurer Michael O’Brien said.

“Unlike the current insurance-based levy, the property-based levy will not incur stamp duty or GST.

“This reform delivers a major tax cut for many families and businesses, while putting our fire services on a more secure financial footing.”

The final instalment notices for Latrobe City’s 2012/13 rates, which are currently in the mail, will not include the new charge.

Community members can access more information via the State Government’s website