Local government is required to collect a number of state levies from ratepayers and pass them on in full to the Victorian Government. Councils have overwhelmingly voiced their concern at being used as a collection agency for the state. It lacks transparency and ratepayers are unaware that a portion of their rates must be diverted by councils to fund state agencies and programs, rather than municipal services and infrastructure.
The MAV will continue to raise this matter with ministers and through submissions and other advocacy avenues. Levies and taxes applied by other levels of government should not be collected by councils.
Fire services levy
From 1 July 2013, councils will collect the fire services property levy (FSPL) on behalf of the Victorian Government. The property-based fire services levy implements a Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission recommendation.
Councils will be responsible for adding the new FSPL to the rates notice and passing on any revenue collected to the State Revenue Office.
Councils have overwhelmingly voiced their strong opposition to collecting this levy and councils believe that collection by the State Revenue Office would be less complex, provide a uniform service and offer more flexibility in the levy design and concession options.
The new levy will replace the existing the fire services levy contribution currently required from 25 metropolitan councils in the MFB area.
State landfill levies
Over four years from 2012, Victorian councils will collect an estimated $200 million in State landfill levies. In 2012–13 councils will collect an estimated $49 million, or $20 per household in municipal landfill levies for the State.
The Victorian Government charges a landfill levy on solid waste. Councils pay the levy on municipal waste, with the cost passed through to ratepayers in garbage charges for kerbside collections, gate fees at landfills/transfer stations or rates. A phased increase in landfill levies commenced in 2010 and councils have been reporting increased illegal dumping as a result.
It is not transparent how the levy funds are re-invested in waste and resource recovery grants and program, or other sustainability initiatives.
National Injury Insurance Scheme
A National Injury Insurance Scheme is currently being proposed. The suggested model advocates councils fund the balance of injury costs after motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents and medical accidents are dealt with. The MAV supports the need for such a scheme, but we don’t agree that it should be funded through council rates. Catastrophic injuries where a council is deemed at fault are highly infrequent and the proposed funding model fails to connect the risk of injuries to either funding contributors or a tax that is fair and equitable.