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Posted on: 11 May, 2017

Ratepayers advised of changes to the NSW Government’s Fire and Emergency Services Levy

Fire and Emergency Services Levy (FESL) appearing on rates notices is not a Council charge. Councils across the state will collect the levy on behalf of the NSW Government with the new system coming into play on July 1, 2017.

Snowy Monaro Regional Council is advising ratepayers that the Fire and Emergency Services Levy (FESL) appearing on rates notices is not a Council charge. Councils across the state will collect the levy on behalf of the NSW Government with the new system coming into play on July 1, 2017.

The NSW Government is introducing a fairer system for collecting the levy that funds fire and emergency services across the state. At the moment, individuals and businesses that buy property insurance contribute the majority of funding for the NSW Fire and Rescue, NSW Rural Fire Service, and the State Emergency Service. Together these organisations help protect the Snowy Monaro region from fire, floods and other natural disasters.

Currently, NSW property owners who insure their properties are subsidising households who don’t purchase home and contents insurance.

Snowy Monaro Regional Council Administrator, Dean Lynch, said the levy, to be paid by all property owners, is not part of Council’s rates and will be clearly identified as a separate item on the rates notice.

“The amount of the Fire and Emergency Service Levy for each property will be set by the NSW Government and determined by land classifications and unimproved land values,” Administrator Lynch said.

“The NSW Valuer General is responsible for determining unimproved land values, while councils identify which land classification properties fall into.”

If you disagree with your property’s classification, you can request a review by Snowy Monaro Regional Council. You can contact Council on 1300 345 345.

Administrator Lynch said fire and severe weather events do not discriminate, and the community rightly expects that firefighting and SES services are available to everyone in their time of need.

“In the last few years the Snowy Monaro community experienced a fire/flood/storm event requiring the much needed assistance of our local RFS/SES. “

“It is only fair that all property owners contribute to these services rather than relying on the insured.

“Snowy Monaro property owners and businesses can rest assured that while Council will now be collecting the Fire and Emergency Services Levy, their rates remain protected.”

The NSW Government’s rate protection commitment means residents of the new council will pay no more for their rates than they would have under their old council for the next three years.

For more detailed information on the NSW Government’s Fire and Emergency Levy, visit: www.fesl.nsw.gov.au or call 1300 78 78 72.

FAQs about FESL ~
I received a letter alongside my rates notice about a Fire and Emergency Service Levy (FESL), and I don’t understand it.
Do you know what it is?

The FESL is a levy being introduced by the NSW Government on 1 July 2017 that will go towards supporting the work of NSW Fire and Rescue, NSW Rural Fire Service and NSW State Emergency Service in protecting the community from fire, flood, storms and other natural disasters.

The FESL was originally called the Emergency Services Property Levy (ESPL) but has since had a name change.

But why is this happening?

The NSW Government is introducing the levy because it believes the cost of the emergency services needs to be shared more fairly across the community.
Currently, individuals and businesses that buy property insurance contribute most of the cost, despite these services being available to everybody in our community. Under the new system, all property owners will contribute to the cost of these services.
The move from an insurance-based levy to a fairer land-based levy is consistent with the recommendations of the Henry Tax Review and the Royal Commission into the Victorian Bushfires and will bring NSW in line with all other mainland states.
What specifically will the levy contribute to?

In addition to costs associated with protecting the community from fire, flood, storms and other natural disasters, the levy will contribute to funding life-saving equipment for firefighters, staff and volunteers, training, infrastructure and community education activities.

When will this levy be introduced?

From 1 July 2017. At this time, insurance companies will no longer collect the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) as a part of insurance premiums.

How much will I pay?
FESL rates are still being determined by the State Government and will be made available in the coming months.
How will the FESL be calculated?
FESL is calculated based on unimproved land value determined by the Valuer General, with different rates for residential, public benefit, commercial, industrial and farm land.
The levy comprises a different base amount for each land classification, plus a variable amount based on unimproved land value.
The NSW Government has announced they will publish the base amounts and rates in the dollar for calculating the variable amount for each land classification on 30 April 2017.
Who classified my land?

Council did. This classification is shown in a letter from the NSW Government that you would have received alongside your April rates notices.

I don’t agree with my land classification. What do I do?

If you disagree with your property’s classification, you can request a review. To do so, you will need to contact Council on 1300 345 345.

If you are dissatisfied with the result of the review, you may appeal to the Land and Environment Court. If Council makes a change to your land classification, we will advise you within 30 days from the date this change occurs.

What is unimproved land value?
Unimproved land value is the value of your land only. It does not include the value of your home or other structures and improvements.

Who else will pay the FESL?

With very few exceptions, all property owners in NSW will pay the FESL. The FESL will be paid by property owners alongside Council rates.

How will this levy be collected?
Councils will collect the FESL on behalf of the NSW Government.
From 1 July 2017, councils will collect the FESL from property owners. Councils will clearly list this new levy on rates notices as a separate item and it will be paid in the same way as Council rates.

What will my Council rates notice look like after the FESL is introduced?

Normal council rates notices will contain the following additional information:
• The land value that has been used to determine the FESL amount
• The year of land valuation for purposes of the FESL
• The FESL land category
• The amount of the FESL payable in the financial year.
If the property does not currently pay council rates, Council will send a separate assessment notice setting out the obligation to pay the FESL.
Will the FESL increase my council rates, even though the NSW Government committed that rates would not increase as a result of a merger?

No. The FESL will not impact on rates set and levied by Council. As a property owner in a merged council, you can rest assured that the NSW Government’s commitment still stands. Your rates remain protected and will not increase more than they would have under your former council for a period of four years from the commencement of the merger.
If I have multiple properties, will I have to pay more than one levy?
Yes. The FESL is charged on each property you own.
If I live in an apartment or unit, will I pay the same as those who live in a house?
The base amount will be the same. The variable amount will be calculated in the same manner as your rates – that is, it will be based on an apportioned land value for your unit.
Will vacant land be subject to FESL?
Yes.

What if I already pay the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) fee as a part of my insurance premium?

Insurance policies taken out or renewed after 1 July will NOT include the ESL.

If I have already paid my insurance this year, is there a risk that I will be charged twice?
When insurance on a property is renewed at any time during 2016-17, the insurance based emergency services levy is the landowner’s contribution for the twelve months ending in June 2017 (2016-17).
When the FESL commences in July 2017, landowners will contribute to fire and emergency services funding for 2017-18 through Council.
If you are unsure about your insurance policy, you should call your provider directly to discuss your bill.


Does this mean I no longer need to insure my home and property?
No. The levy simply funds emergency services provided by the Fire and Rescue NSW, Rural Fire Services and NSW State Emergency Service. It does not compensate you for property damage.
Property owners should still renew or take out insurance appropriate to their circumstances.
How can I be certain my insurance company will pass on the savings once the ESL is removed?
The Office of the Insurance Monitor has been established to ensure the savings generated from the abolition of the insurance-based Emergency Services Levy (ESL) are passed onto customers.
The Insurance Monitor will set guidelines, undertake investigations, share information with the community and take enforcement action against any insurers not passing on the savings to consumers. For more information visit the Insurance Monitor website www.eslinsurancemonitor.nsw.gov.au.
I’m a pensioner. What does FESL mean for me?

Pensioners entitled to a council rates concession will also receive a discount on their FESL.

What happens if I cannot pay FESL?

You can apply for hardship relief.
The Office of State Revenue will be responsible for assessing hardship applications. We understand that the Treasurer will issue guidelines.
I still don’t understand. Is there someone from the NSW Treasury/State Government I can speak to about this?

You can go to www.fesl.nsw.gov.au for more information or call 1300 78 78 72.

Fire and Emergency Services Levy Website
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