MAROONDAH Council is frustrated at being forced to be the collection agency for the state government's new fire services levy.
Mayor Rob Steane said he was "outraged" when the government last week confirmed legislation to change the tax collection format for funding Victoria's fire services.
The government first floated its intention to move from an insurance-based levy to a property-based levy in September last year - with councils expected to collect the fee through rates notices.
Cr Steane and Maroondah's chief executive officer Frank Dixon say this will lead to many ratepayers assuming the council is simply charging them more. "We are essentially becoming debt collectors," Cr Steane said.
The council believes the levy's collection should be up to the State Revenue Office because it is "a levy that funds a state government function".
It presented its view to the Municipal Association of Victoria earlier this year and plans to raise its concerns again.
At present fire services are funded by contributions from the insurance industry, which passes the cost of its contribution onto customers through premiums.
Under the new levy, all residential properties —regardless of whether they are insured — will attract a fixed charge of $100 and non-residential properties $200, as well as a variable fee based on capital improved value.
The predicted median levy price for Maroondah is $130.
Concerns raised by the council include how and when the income would be forwarded from councils to the government and what the levy would mean for non-rateable properties such as churches, schools or council-owned facilities such as sports grounds.
Last October the MAV made a submission to the government against councils having a role in the levy collection but was not informed of any developments before the legislation went through last week.