Horsham farm differential to increase



HORSHAM Rural City Council will increase the farm differential to 20 per cent. 

Council adopted its draft rating strategy and 2014-15 budget at a meeting on Monday night.

The documents proposed to raise the farm differential from 10 per cent and increase municipal rates by five percent for the 2014-15 financial year.

Council released its rates strategy review last month, which proposed a 15 per cent farm differential

Council received three submissions to the strategy, all from farmers, calling for the differential to be increased further.

If the draft strategy is adopted, farmers will pay only 80 per cent of the general municipal rate.

Corporate services director Graeme Harrison said the differential was in recognition of changes to relative property values in the past 10 years, the high value of land as an input to farm operations, and in recognition of some lesser access to services associated with the rural isolation of the majority of the farming sector.

Cr Tony Phelan welcomed the farm differential increase.

"This council has recognised the need to balance the inequity between the rural and urban sectors," he said.

"However, if we introduce a differential there needs to be a reason and not just because they're farmers.

"One reason is the road management plan. Residential roads are used more than minor roads, therefore road access for farmers is not at the same level as others in the community.

"Also the increase in value of farming properties way outstrips other land values."

Cr Mark Radford said six years ago council has a five per cent farm differential.

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