NSW government rethinks fire levy

The New South Wales local government sector today welcomed the State Government’s announcement that it would not push ahead with the introduction of its council-collected Fire and Emergency Services Levy (FESL) from July 1.

Currently, property owners make a significant funding contribution to fire and emergency services through their insurance premiums, as well as via an 11.7% levy embedded in their rate notices.

The Government had previously announced it would scrap the insurance contribution, replacing it with a new line-item levy on council rate notices.

The FESL was based on the unimproved land value of property across the state.

However, the most recent land valuations meant significant increases in contributions for many property owners, prompting community and media criticism.

“Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s announcement that the Government will not impose the FESL from July 1 provides an opportunity to pursue a true broad-based levy that replaces both the insurance and existing ratepayer contributions,” LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said.

“The local government sector recognises and supports the need to properly fund fire and emergency services, and has continued to work with Treasury on this.

“Councils have already done a lot of work to comply with the Government’s FESL legislation, and there will now be a need to undo this work – not to mention the associated costs.

“While this is regrettable, the chance to get the levy right should be our focus,” he said.