Time is running out to fight proposed rate rise
WHEN Gary Bird was Horsham’s mayor, he said: “If you want to live in the wonderful city of Horsham then you must pay for the privilege.”
The current council have changed his saying to: “Come live in Horsham and we will get the farmers to pay your rates for you.”
Under a 2.2 per cent rate cap, the current council intends to increase the farm rates by 11.8 per cent to fund the -0.6 per cent deficit of the residential sector – a 12.4 per cent difference.
Farmers are expected to pay $646,000 to fund the residential deficit of -$68,000.
But hidden in the budget papers that no one is supposed to know about is an additional $471,000 in rates from the $96 million of new valuations of the residential sector that was absorbed into this deficit as well.
This takes the true deficit of the residential sector that council intends to force farmers to pay to $530,000.
In a small rate budget of only $20 million that is a rate increase difference of $1.2 million.
Not on councillors, the farm differential had to be increased.
I spoke to a councillor at an information centre at Horsham Plaza recently.
He actually believes the differential is a subsidy – even though from council figures he would know that farmers are forced to pay a larger percentage of the rates split each year.
Farmers only recently paid 26 to 27 per cent of the total rates; now we are forced to pay 31 per cent to further subsidise the general sector.
Council treats farmers as they are milking cows; these subsidies have been going on since amalgamation.
This councillor gave me the impression that if the differential was dropped off and our rates share went to 45 per cent, he would not believe that would be a subsidy to the general sector.
I laughed at him when he believed that giving the residential sector a $530,000 deficit and forcing the farmers to pay $646,000 extra in rates was not a subsidy to the residential sector.
Come on, councillors – think about this.
I would like to think the newest of our Horsham councillors approached the Draft Budget with open minds.
The differentials have always been applied as a tool for dealing with farmland prices rising faster than the general sector.
The Ararat council’s differential got to 47.5 per cent with skyrocketing land prices. They still maintain a 45 per cent differential.
The mix of farmers and residential within the Horsham municipality is similar to Ararat.
Horsham council’s differential should have been 30 per cent in 2014 and 40 per cent in 2016 as a way of dealing with the valuation fluctuations instead of ripping off farmers to subsidise the other sectors.
Attention farmers, or all ratepayers for that matter – council approved the release of interim land valuations so ratepayers have access to their rate burden early.
This was quite a significant win for farmers.
So, please, farmers – get off your tractors for half an hour, as we do not have much time left to do this. Our group needs this information as soon as possible to analyse where the rate rises will be within this 11.8 per cent rate increase.
I would especially like to hear from those farmers who had no valuation increase in 2016.
There will be rate rises of 100 per cent – will it be yours?
You need to be aware of this, too.
If you have a house in Horsham, we would like to know the rate reduction as well.
Farmers must stop doing nothing about their rates. Go to the Horsham council website and follow the links to the interim rate request.
Neville McIntyre, McKenzie Creek
Call to ban live exports fraught with danger
WE HAVE a lot of people wishing to ban the Australian live sheep trade to the Middle East.
Great, terrific – but as with all simple solutions to complex problems a very useful question ask ourselves is, what happens next?
The live sheep trade will continue – of that there can be no doubt. We recently had a delegation of Middle Eastern Ministers visit urging Australia to continue the trade.
This means the demand is there and if these countries cannot source live sheep from Australia then they will source them elsewhere, which will mean longer shipping times.
It may come as a surprise to most people, but no other country has as much concern about shipping conditions for live sheep as the Australian livestock industry does.
Australian producers were just as horrified by the images seen on television as anyone else. Australian producers felt let down by those who had oversight of the trade.
We are the country whose industry tries to improve conditions. That we do not always get it right just means we must try harder.
If we ban the live sheep trade out of Australia, we lose any influence we have. We are outside the tent.
Any attempt to improve conditions for sheep from other countries once we are out of the trade will be regarded as interference in their internal affairs and we will be told to butt out.
So by banning the live sheep trade out of Australia, we will actually end up with a worse animal welfare outcome overall. Think about it.
Russell McKenzie, Haven