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Government Announces Fire Service Levy Increase

8 December 2000. Media Statement

Government Announces Fire Service Levy Increase

Minister of Internal Affairs Hon. George Hawkins has announced that the rate of Fire Service levy will be increased from 1 March 2001.

The levy is paid on all insurance policies that cover against the risk of fire. It is the only source of funding for the Fire Service Commission and also funds most of the rural firefighting fund.

The levy will increase from its present rate of 6.2 cents per $100 of insured value to 7.3 cents on the 1st of March 2001.

For householders this means a maximum rise of 11 dollars annually, due to a cap of $100,000 on the maximum value assessed for house insurance.

For motor vehicle owners there is a flat rate annual charge, and this will increase from $4.96 to $5.84, an increase of 88 cents.

George Hawkins said: “I do not like having to put any charges up, neither for the household nor the business sector. However, the reality of the situation is that the Fire Service has been inadequately funded for more than two years now.

“When my predecessor, Mark Burton, took responsibility for the portfolio a year ago, he was briefed by the Department of Internal Affairs that funding issues were a major concern”, George Hawkins said.

“The Department then warned that the existing levy rate was insufficient to address the impacts of long-term capital requirements and Commission debt,” George Hawkins said.

Contributing pressures are:
 the Commission is facing rising costs for items such as fuel
 the Commission is losing revenue through changes in insurance policies in the commercial sector
 there are costs to be faced in renewing firefighters’ employment contracts, which have been unresolved since 1994.

George Hawkins wants to improve funding system for the Fire Service. “All New Zealanders are aware that firefighters are often the first to arrive at road accidents and that they’re the ones who tie on roofs in storms and mop up after flood damage.

“But they’re not properly funded for this.

“I want to find a fairer means to spread the burden of costs in the future, so that people and organisations with insurance are not the only ones paying for this essential emergency service,” George Hawkins said.


ENDS

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