Fire fee cut but cost unchanged

THE state government is set to cut the fire services property levy from July 1.

Treasurer Michael O'Brien and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan announced yesterday that the variable part of the levy, based on capital improved value, would be reduced, while the base amount for each property would remain unchanged.

The levy, which is collected with council rates, was introduced last July, replacing an earlier levy on insurance premiums.

Businesses in Country Fire Authority (CFA) areas will experience the biggest cuts. "The average business in the CFA area will now pay $823 instead of $923 a year," Mr O'Brien said.

"The average business in a CFA area on an industrial block will see its bill drop from $1689 to $1389, saving $300."

Residential properties will attract a fixed levy of $102, while all other properties will be charged $205. In addition, all properties attract a charge based on the capital improved value.

The variable rate on residential properties in CFA areas will drop from 11.5 to 10.9 cents per $1000 of valuation, while those in the Metropolitan Fire Brigade area will have the rate reduced from 6.9 to 6.5 cents per $1000.

The rise in property values is expected to cancel the reduction, resulting in an average levy of $142 for country properties and $143 in the metropolitan area unchanged from this year.

Farms in country areas will have the variable rate reduced from 31.2 to 24.6 cents per $1000, resulting in a total average levy of $402, compared with $449 this year.

This is the second major revamp of the levy since its introduction.

Earlier this year residential rental properties were moved from the commercial to the residential category, following lobbying by landlords who had some levy payments treble from the insurance-based system.

shynes@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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