The Baillieu Government is budgeting to gouge $117 million next year for an environmental contribution levy - a 67 per cent jump.
The charges are expected to be passed on to customers through price rises to be proposed by water authorities today when they release draft pricing plans for the next five years.
In the next four years water customers will pay $348.5 million through the levy, despite no planned environmental projects.
Under charges set by the former Labor government the environmental levy harvested $70.2 million from water customers last year, but the Department of Sustainability and Environment spent only $46 million of it on environmental projects.
With many of those projects completed, no initiatives listed in the Budget and the huge increase in revenue, the Opposition says the Government is imposing an unwarranted tax to prop up its promised $100 million surplus.
"This is a secret tax on every Victorian household that has not been spoken about, hidden deeply in the Budget papers, that will be buried in bills and 1000-page Essential Services Commission documents.
"This fund was used to fund some lapsing Labor initiatives. It was not all spent this year and now it is going up from $70 million to $117 million."
The Government also plans to take hundreds of millions of dollars of dividends from Melbourne's water authorities to strengthen its 2013-14 budget.
"The Government is in the process of identifying and assessing projects which will maximise returns to the community," a government spokeswoman said.
heraldsun.com.au 31 May 2012