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Increasing Fire Service Levies Adds To Inequity

24 August 2000 PR101/2000

Increasing Fire Service Levies Adds To Inequity

Federated Farmers would be very concerned if the demands by professional fire fighters for a massive wage increase led to a rise in the fire service levy.

Only those New Zealanders who insure their buildings and/or vehicles currently pay the levy. The wage increase could cost an additional $25m per year.

"The higher wages have to be recouped from somewhere, and will inevitably flow through to increased levy rates," said John Aspinall, Federated Farmers' Rural Fires spokesperson.

"Any wage increase would be to largely urban-based brigades' staff. The rural community is largely serviced by volunteer brigades, who would receive not receive any wage increase."

The system of funding the Fire Service is not fair and equitable to the rural community. While rural people pay an equivalent levy, the level of service and protection they receive is far lower.

"Any increase in levies to fund professional fire fighters would go entirely to urban-based services, and would thus increase the level of unfair treatment of rural communities."

Mr Aspinall said that, "If the levy increases so as to fund professional urban fire fighters, Federated Farmers will demand a review of fire service funding, to reflect a more equitable basis."

ENDS For further information: John Aspinall 03-443-7155

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