Dandenong traders fume at levy hike

DANDENONG Retail Traders Association has added its voice to the
growing anger over large increases in the state government’s fire
services property levy.

President Glenys Cooper said retailers were being charged up to
$1000 more this financial year despite the government’s promise of a
fairer fire levy system.

The fire levy is now mandatory and collected with council rates.
It was reformed to spread the cost across all property owners rather
than only those who took out insurance.

“I thought it would mean people who had been insured would be paying less,” Ms Cooper said.

“This will have a big effect on businesses which will then pass
the increases on to customers. My question is, what is the state
government doing with the extra money?”

The association is advising retailers to complain to the Fire
Services Levy Monitor. However, a spokesperson for the new office of the
monitor said it was not empowered to investigate increased levy
charges. Its charter was to ensure that insurerance companies didn’t
continue to charge the levy.

Springvale mechanic Mark Holyoak, who last week told The Journal
he would refuse to pay the threefold rise in his levy to $1194, said
there ws no avenue of appeal.

“We need to hold a public meeting about this, get our local
representatives, our councillors and MPs there and ask them what they
are going to do about it.”

Greater Dandenong councillor Roz Blades said there was widespread
ratepayer anger at the levy rises because CFA-serviced areas such as
Greater Dandenong were being charged more than neighbouring MFB-serviced
municipalities.

The council is writing to the state government to oppose the disparity.

A state government spokeswoman said properties in CFA areas were
charged higher rates due to “the higher CFA budget and its coverage
right across regional Victoria”. 

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