Illawarra councils have warned ratepayers that they’ll soon be slugged more in their annual rates notices, as the state government changes the way it funds fire and emergency services.
To be introduced from July 1, the state Fire and Emergency Services Levy will cost an average of about $185 a year for residential landowners. Currently the bulk of the annual funding for Fire and Rescue NSW, the Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Service is collected through a tax on insurance companies, passed onto customers via higher premiums.
The new system – which is subject to legislation being passed in parliament – will charge all landowners in NSW an annual levy.
Kiama council will send out letters – along with their next rates installment notice – next week to tell its residents what type of land their properties are on.
“Ratepayers who disagree with their property’s classification can request a review by contacting (the) council,” Kiama’s general manager Michael Forsyth said.
“While council is responsible for managing the classification of land for the purposes of the FESL, the rate used to calculate the levy is set by the NSW Government.”
According to the bill introduced on March 7, residential landowners and owners of “public benefit land” such as churches and scout halls, will have an annual fixed charge of $100 plus an extra amount calculated on their unimproved land value.
For farms, industrial and commercial landholders the fixed charge will be $200 plus the additional amount.
Landowners will be able to visit the levy website to calculate their annual payment from May 1.
Kiama ratepayers will see the actual FESL on rates notices next financial year, with the first instalment due on August 31, 2017.