IWeb_ratesnoticeNSTEAD of a promised reduction in the level of the Fire Services Levy they pay, local business operators look like paying considerably more under the new ‘fairer’ system introduced by the Baillieu-Napthine Government. A local business with offices in Leongatha, Korumburra and Wonthaggi provided the following example: Previously the business owner was paying $1100 in total fire service levy costs across the three premises through his insurance.

Now, under the new system, he’s paying a total of $1525.90; $560.30 at Wonthaggi, $475.15 at Korumburra and $490.45 at Leongatha. And that’s based on his previous insurance statement. He’ll have to wait and see if the insurance company passes on the full extent of fire levy reduction. Together with the hike in rates introduced by the local shire councils, the result has been a shock for many ratepayers as they opened their rates notices in the past few weeks. For example, the local business operator with commercial premises in Leongatha, Korumburra and Wonthaggi has seen the following increases in his rates notice:
• Korumburra: was $1199.50 now $1775.70
• Wonthaggi: was $1249.51 now $1889.04
• Leongatha: was $1268.19 now $1844.21

Of course some farm owners and major business owners are paying considerably more and all are urged to check their new Fire Services Levy payments against what they previously paid through their insurance policies. The Sentinel-Times would welcome your feedback by letter or on its Facebook page. When the State Government pitched its reform of the Fire Services Levy to the community, the Treasurer said this about the new property based levy: “By abolishing the unfair tax-on-tax in the current system, we will lower the cost of insurance considerably and save households and businesses across the state more than $100 million a year,” Mr Wells said.

Backlash?
Staff at local shire offices have received some backlash over the hike in total rates charged, including the new Fire Services Levy, but have attempted to deflect some of that criticism by providing them with information about the state government’s levy. On the South Gippsland Shire Council website, the information about the levy has been taken off the front of the website but can be found via the ‘Site Map’ tab, and scroll to the bottom of the list (12 up from the bottom last Friday).