Farmers harbour rates anxiety


FARMERS in South Gippsland are continuing to feel the pressure of Bass Coast Shire Council’s rates.

Council’s acting corporate services director John Wynen said farmers represent 3.6 per cent of rateable properties and pay 7.5 per cent of all rates and charges.

However, the value of farming properties – the basis of rating properties – represents over 10 per cent of the value of all properties.

According to Mr Wynen, farmers have been advocating for a farm differential rate for the last few years.

“In response to this, council has actively engaged with the farming sector to understand their concerns,” he said.

“One of the actions taken by council was to establish the Rural Engagement Group in 2013, as an advisory group, to assist in understanding issues facing the farming community. One of the issues that has been discussed by the group has been farm rates.”

That is little comfort to Glen Alvie beef farmer Neville Chapman, who believes the system was broken.

“We are no more of a burden to the shire than any other ratepayer,” the president of the Bass Coast branch of the Victorian Farmer’s Federation (VFF) said.

“We don’t mind paying rates but we shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of excessive rates.”

Mr Chapman said farming was a way of life and for the most part has treated him well. However, he said rates have continued to rise annually and there are no signs of stopping.

“Farmers have assets but they aren’t rich,” he said.

“Council need to start taking care of the locals.”

Mr Chapman said farmers are asking for a 50 per cent differential rate and a 20 per cent environmental charge.

“This will bring our rates down to paying the same amount as residential ratepayers,” he said.

“We need a service based shire. Everyone should be treated fairly.”

Though a differential rate doesn’t apply to farms, Mr Wynen said Bass Coast Shire Council was one of few councils that apply a land management rebate to farm properties.

“This rebate equates to over $553,000 in the proposed 2014-15 budget and represents a reduction in farm rates to 16 per cent,” he said.

“This amount of $553,000 is funded by all other categories of properties.”

Mr Wynen said council has considered a differential rate as part of its past budgets. Council will be undertaking a full review of its rating strategy in the 2014-15 financial year.

Fight for fairness: Glen Alvie’s Neville Chapman wants to see a differential rate introduced to Bass Coast Shire Council’s rating system.

Fight for fairness: Glen Alvie’s Neville Chapman wants to see a differential rate introduced to Bass Coast Shire Council’s rating system.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=11849

Posted by on Aug 26 2014. 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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