Residents in rural areas are set to pay more for the Fire and Emergency Services Levy (FESL) than their urban counterparts under the new “fairer” system, according to Cr Kevin Crameri.
Under changes introduced by the state government, the levy that helps fund the state’s fire and emergency services will be collected through council rates from July 1. The government spruiked the system as a fairer way to collect the levy, as it was previously only paid by insured property owners.
Under the new system, residential-rated property owners will pay a base rate of $100 plus an additional $21.90 per $100,000 of unimproved capital value of the property – or the amount the land is worth without buildings.
Cr Crameri said the new system meant rural property owners could end up paying twice or three times the amount as those who lived in the centre of town.
“They are saying this system is fairer for all, but it’s not,” he said. “People in rural areas will pay two, three, four times what people in town pay.”
Cr Crameri said he knew of a case where a rural landowner with a business on his property was facing a FESL bill of about $1,500.
“I have no problem with the concept of this levy but I feel the way it’s calculated is totally unfair. If we use the calculator provided, a house in Penrith [will pay] about $190 but a house in the rural area is about $490 because of the land value,” he said.
“This is more than what we were paying before.”
Cr Crameri has highlighted the issue to fellow councillors, and has also approached the region’s state members of parliament to lobby on behalf of rural landowners.
“I have sent an email off to four local members but not one of them has replied to me,” he said. “I am extremely disappointed in our state MPs, they are supporting something that isn’t ‘fairer for all’.
“We have all got the same chance of something happening [requiring an emergency response],” he said.
Cr Crameri has asked the state government to reconsider the formula and impose a maximum limit on what people will pay. FESL on a property can be calculated by visiting http://fesl.nsw.gov.au/rates_and_calculator.