The Weekly Advertiser

Early release of Horsham farm rates ‘a win’

Horsham Rural City Council.

Horsham Rural City Council.

By SARAH SCULLY
McKenzie Creek farmer Neville McIntyre is celebrating a ‘win’ for the region’s primary producers after Horsham Rural City Council agreed to provide provisional land revaluation information before official rates notices were issued.
Mr McIntyre addressed Monday night’s council meeting to ask several questions about the council’s 2019-19 draft rating strategy.
Among these was a request for farmers to be able to access their own revalued rate notices early, to help inform their submissions to the council’s 2018-19 draft budget.
Council corporate services director Graeme Harrison replied to questions Mr McIntyre posed in a letter to the council and on the council floor.
Mr Harrison said he was against issuing individual evaluation and revaluation information early.
“Until such time as the valuer general has signed off on the valuations they are not final and are subject to change,” he said.
“It’s also important to note the differential is applied to a category of properties and not individual properties – so the movement within and between categories is a matter of concern and not personal ratepayer circumstances.”
Cr David Grimble picked up on Mr McIntyre’s questions during ordinary business, moving that revaluation information be provided to individual ratepayers on request, to give indicative rate burden.
Mr Harrison, when asked by mayor Pam Clarke for a response, said the council could technically provide the valuation information.
“But they are not final,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s bringing individual circumstances into the discussion when in fact, any discussion around the differential should apply to the sector movement.”
Cr Grimble said he believed it was important to give the farming sector in particular, which shouldered a significant rates burden, an indication of their rates bill.
“If we give them information and say it’s not finalised until the valuer general signs off, they’ll have the expectation to pay the adjustment,” he said. “It will give them some reasonable guidance about what their rate might be.”
Cr Grimble said the information would allow farmers to budget accordingly and help those wanting to make submissions to the council’s draft budget.
“It will allow them to be better prepared for what we know will be an additional burden to the farming sector,” he said.
“I think the request is reasonable.”
Cr John Robinson agreed.
“It can’t be hard to stamp the notice provisional, or subject to change or however we want to flag it as not being the final document,” he said.
“At the end of the day it’s information that belongs to that particular person. They should have the right to access that information.”
Cr Mark Radford said he would like ‘more than five minutes’ to consider the request.
“It wasn’t on the agenda that we were going to make a decision like this and I’m not sure what to do,” he said.
“I understand why there would be advantages in that. I can also feel Mr Harrison’s hesitance in this so I’m reluctant to support something that falls out of the sky.”
Cr Alethea Gulvin said she would also like more information, but voted in favour of the proposal alongside Crs Grimble and Robinson.
Crs Clarke and Radford voted against, while Cr Les Power chose to abstain from voting.
With Cr Josh Koenig absent, the motion passed.
Horsham Rural City residents have until June 5 to make a submission to the council’s proposed budget, rates strategy and 2018-22 council plan.
People can make a submission online at www.hrcc.vic.gov.au, by emailing council@hrcc.vic.gov.au or sending a copy to Horsham Civic Centre, 18 Roberts Avenue, Horsham, 3402.

The entire May 23, 2018 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on May 23 2018

Posted by on May 23 2018. Filed under 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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