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Frequently Asked Questions: Deferral of the Fire and Emergency Services Levy (FESL)
Legislation to defer the FESL and to reinstate the insurance based Emergency Services Levy has been passed by Parliament. The new legislation commenced on 1 July 2017. A copy of the legislation is available on the NSW legislation website: http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/act/2017/32.
The following information is provided by the Office of Local Government in response to frequently asked FESL deferral questions:
1. Will landowners be informed that the FESL is no longer going ahead?
Yes. The Treasurer has signed an Order under the FESL Act requiring councils to provide a specific notice to landowners in July, informing them that the FESL has been deferred. Where practical, this must be included with rates or notices charges.
NSW Treasury has commissioned production of the DL flyer notices, to be sent to all councils’ print houses. Sufficient quantities will be sent to each council to enable advice to all ratepayers who had previously received a FESL classification notice in April. These flyers are to be inserted into July 2017 rates notice envelopes.
There are a small number of properties where councils sent a FESL classification letter in April but will not issue a notice of rates and charges in July. For these, Treasury has asked that councils send address data to Treasury, so that Treasury can organise for postcards to be sent to these properties. The postcards will include the same deferral information as on the flyer.
2. How are software changes being handled?
NSW Treasury is working closely with the eight software providers on system de-configuration, and continues to provide advice to, and seek information from, councils on the processes involved in ensuring FESL is not included on July rates notices.
3. When will the FESL legislation be deferred?
Legislation to defer the FESL, and to reinstate the insurance-based ESL, was passed by Parliament on 22 June. The new legislation commenced on 1 July 2017.
4. What will happen to provisions within FESL Legislation that affect the Local Government Act 1993 (i.e., section 511A regarding catching up of income lost due to reductions in valuation)?
The legislation provides that the changes that were implemented as part of the original FESL Legislation (such as section 511A) will remain in the Local Government Act 1993.
5. Will councils continue to be reimbursed for costs?
Yes. Councils have incurred the majority of costs identified under the cost framework and have already been reimbursed via round 1 and round 2 payments to Councils.
OLG will process a third payment on behalf of NSW Treasury on 30 June. NSW Treasury will write to each council individually to advise of the amount of the third payment, and provide a summary of the three payments, and itemise amounts across each of the cost heads.
6. Will Councils continue to manage and update the FESL land classification data?
Councils are not required to continually update the FESL land classification data for each property, but are encouraged to keep a record of the classification work done to date. Retaining the data is likely to make the process of re-initiating FESL, as and when the NSW Government determines that this should occur, a smoother process for councils.
7. Will councils continue to pay the 11.7% ESL to the Office of Emergency Management or to the OSR? Will the legislation be changed to this effect?
As provided for under the original FESL legislation, councils will remit the 11.7% council contributions to OSR. OSR has project work underway to manage the transition, and will contact councils further in regard to this, including the question of payment options.
8. When will OSR notify Councils of their ESL contributions?
OSR issued the ESL contribution notice to all councils on 27 April 2017.
9. All properties were revalued as part of the FESL. Can you confirm these new Notice of Valuations continue to form the valuations for rating purposes, or do Councils revert back to the original valuation and cycle which existed pre FESL?
The new valuation cycle was initiated under the Valuation of Land Act 1916 and will remain in place. 1 July 2016 land values issued by the Valuer General are still to be utilised for 2017-18 rating purposes.
10. How long will the FESL hotline and the Insurance Monitor remain in place?
NSW Treasury anticipates that the FESL hotline (1300 78 78 72) will remain live until 31 August 2017.
The Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor (Insurance Monitor) will continue to operate until 30 June 2020. It is an independent statutory authority, established to provide consumer protections as part of the NSW Government’s emergency services levy funding reform. Landowners with questions about their insurance policies should be directed to the Insurance Monitor. More information about the role of the Monitor is available on its website at: www.eslinsurancemonitor.nsw.gov.au.
11. Council has pending applications to review the classification of land for the Levy. Does Council suspend the review of classifications and does council need to reimburse application fees paid for all reviews whether completed or not?
Council is not required to proceed with these applications but should refund any application fees (up to $50), in the event that any were applied.
12. Are councils required to provide any information to the Office of the Valuer-General to certify compliance with FESL classification obligations?
No, this is no longer required.
13. Where to go for further information?
Office of State Revenue –Property Levy Team 1300 139 817 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Emergency Services Insurance Monitor – 1300 607 723 or www.eslinsurancemonitor.nsw.gov.au