SOUTH-WEST Victorians will pay almost $20 million for the new compulsory fire services levy attached to their rates bills.
The levy, calculated on every property and residence, is expected to bring in about $600m across the state to pay for Metropolitan Fire Brigade and Country Fire Authority services.
However, there are concerns about how the pool will be distributed and discrepancies in levies for rental properties.
Warrnambool city councillor Jacinta Ermacora, who is also a member of the local fire brigade, told this week’s council meeting rural communities had paid a considerable amount in the past for levies on various services, but didn’t seem to get much in return.
“Regarding the fire services levy, is there going to be a capacity for feedback on where the money goes that comes out of our region?” she asked.
Corporate strategies director Kevin Leddin said he understood it would go into a pool and there was a delineation between metropolitan and regional fire services.
Mr Leddin said council staff had handled hundreds of inquiries about the levy since rates notices were posted out earlier this month.
“It’s settled down a bit now,” he said.
“Local government is just the collecting agency for the state.
“It’s been mostly determined on the council’s capital improvement value of a property.
“We sent out 12,640 rates notices.”
The city will collect $3.856 million in fire levies, which will be sent to the state government.
Mr Leddin said if the levy was not paid, the council would send further letters asking that it be paid.
“If, despite repeated requests, the levy is not paid, debt recovery procedures may be pursued,” he said.
Moyne Shire expects to collect about $5 million in fire levies, Colac Otway Shire $3.4 million, Corangamite Shire $3.1 million and Southern Grampians Shire $2.5 million.
Glenelg Shire would not disclose its figures, but The Standard estimates it would be at least $2m.
The government introduced the levy following recommendations from the Black Saturday royal commission, which found many property owners did not contribute to fire services.
About $53 million has been set aside to compensate councils for collecting the levy.