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Farmers fuming over ‘serious’ rate burden

Ararat district farmers have demanded ‘answers’ from Ararat Rural City Council over what it claims is a ‘serious’ rates discrepancy.
They argue that the council has ‘slugged its farming ratepayers’ with a $654,400 rate hike, despite signing off on half the increase in a Draft Rating Strategy.
“It was bad enough when we found out the rating strategy was going to shift $316,700 of the rates burden off residential ratepayers onto farmers,” Victorian Farmers Federation member David Hucker said.
“But now we’ve discovered council officers have drafted a budget that more than doubles the burden to $654,400.”
The Ararat council released an official statement last week outlining why the draft 2013 strategy proposed to increase the farm rate from 52.5 percent of the general rate to 60 percent.
Mayor Cr Ian Wilson said the proposed change would result in a redistribution of the rate burden with the general sector responsible for 51 percent of the rate burden, down from 54 percent, and the farming sector paying 40 percent, up from 37 percent.
He said it was important to consider for issue from an historical context.
“In 1995 farmers were carrying 46 percent of the rate burden, due to strong increases in farm land valuations.  In order to address this, the council made changes to the farm differential over a number of years, which brought this down to a more reasonable level,” he said.
“Of more recent times farm valuations have dropped, leading to a situation where in 2012-13 farmers were only carrying 37 percent of the rate burden, and the current proposal is to move this back to 40 percent.
“This is not unreasonable, or unfair, it is the council merely adjusting the differentials to achieve the best outcomes for the whole of the community, having regard to the long-term and cumulative effects.  This is what the council is required to do under the Local Government Act 1989.”
Cr Wilson said under the proposed strategy, the average farm assessment would pay $374 more and the average residential assessment $14 more in 2013-14 as part of an overall seven percent rate rise.

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Posted on May 30 2013

Posted by on May 30 2013. Filed under Agriculture, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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