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Horsham mayor Pam Clarke responds to rating, budget decisions

HRCC chief executive Sunil Bhalla and mayor Pam Clarke at Horsham Rural City Council's special rates meeting on Monday night. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Horsham Rural City Council chief executive Sunil Bhalla and mayor Pam Clarke at the council’s special rates meeting on Monday night. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER


Horsham Rural City Mayor Pam Clarke has made a statement in relation to Monday night’s special council meeting, which saw the council pass its rating strategy and budget for 2018-19.

All councils across Victoria have the same requirements in the Local Government Act to put our rate strategy and budget out for community consultation and comment.
This was done and we received eight submissions, two of which were from farmers challenging our rate differential for the farming community.
We never received a submission from the Victorian Farmers Federation.
Other than the 2.25 percent increase determined by the State Government, rates levels are also determined by the value of your property.
If the value of your property goes up, so do your rates.
The valuations are done by an independent valuer appointed by State Government. The rates system is literately a wealth tax.
Council understands the burden placed on the farming businesses when their farm valuations have jumped significantly in one year because of their property valuations.
However, to be asked to significantly change our rating system and budget after the consultation process has been completed is just not possible or appropriate.
Cr Grimble’s motion was seeking wholesale changes to the way we fundamentally calculate our rates and our budget.
He was seeking to have a 2.25 percent rate increase over every section of our community. This would mean developing a rate differential for each other sector of the community, residential, commercial and industrial.
This has never been done before. His motion also reduced the budget by $400,000, again a fundamental change to our budget.
If we approved this fundamental shift in the rate strategy and the budget, it would have set a precedent and this would undermine the principle of rates calculated on valuations, which is the foundation of the rate system.
The farming community, get a tax exception for their rates on their farm and their house, residential ratepayers do not.
With such a significant change being proposed by Cr Grimble, our chief executive Mr Bhalla sought legal advice and was advised that to change the rate strategy and the budget at such short notice without having the time to going back to the community for their comment, would be breaching the Act and could land council in the Supreme Court.
Council has committed to do a full rate review prior to the next budget and assess the implications of any shift in our rating strategy will have on each sector of our community.
This is a complex issue and we understand the passionate feelings this issue generates.
However, under the Act, council must comply with the principles of natural justice and at all times look at the impact a change to one sector will have on the other.
It is a legislated requirement for good reason and it is our duty and our responsibility to govern for all.
Cr Pam Clarke


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Posted on Jun 28 2018

Posted by on Jun 28 2018. 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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