Fire and Emergency Services Levy delay good news for Leeton Shire Council

LEETON Shire Council won’t have to be the “bad guy” after a decision was reversed by the state government. 

The government recently announced a delay to the introduction of the Fire and Emergency Services Levy (FESL), which was to be collected by local councils. 

As part of the original plan, councils were being made to collect the levy through its rates system on behalf of the state government. 

In the past this levy had been part of insurance policies. 

After some push back the government has delayed the levy collection through councils. 

Leeton Shire Council general manager Jackie Kruger said not only would there now be no confusion among ratepayers, but it would make life easier. 

“It will certainly mean our rates processing will be easier than what it was going to be under this plan,” she said. 

Council had been concerned it would be made out to be the bad guy under the plan and was worried ratepayers may think it was a levy introduced by it. 

“The less complicated rates notices are to read the better,” Mrs Kruger said. The delay in the levy has been met with some concern by stakeholder groups. 

The NSW Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) was in favour of the levy being collected through insurance policies, but was unsure what path the government would now head down. 

“If the Government wishes to review the means of collecting the FESL that is their prerogative, but we have been provided with guarantees and we would not want to see those undertakings compromised by model changes,” RFSA president Ken Middleton said. Insurance companies were also none to impressed with the decision to delay the introduction of the levy in a different manner. 

Insurance Council of Australia spokesman Campbell Fuller said the decision was a blow. “The FESL will continue to deter the community from taking out the insurance we all need,” he said. “The government now requires insurance companies to continue collecting the old levy beyond June 30, for an unspecified portion of the 2017-18 financial year.”