FARMERS across the region spoke out about rate disparity in their councils last month.
Wimmera and Southern Mallee councils Horsham, Yarriambiack, Northern Grampians, Buloke, Hindmarsh, West Wimmera and Ararat all held meetings during the last fortnight to adopt their 2018-19 Budgets.
Increasing farm rates was a hot topic in most shires, with farmers showing their power in numbers by attending meetings across the region.
In Horsham Rural City Council, residential rates were decreased by 0.6 per cent, while farm rates increased by 11.8 per cent.
At council’s special budget meeting on June 25, councillor David Grimble moved a motion for rates to increase by 2.25 per cent across all categories.
Three councillors voted in favour of the motion, while three voted against. Mayor Pam Clarke had the deciding vote, which defeated the motion.
At its meeting on June 27, Yarriambiack Shire Council councillors chose to adopt council’s 2018-19 Budget with the alteration that the farm rate differential would increase from 23 per cent to 28 per cent. \
Prior to these council meetings, the Victorian Farmers Federation held meetings and rallies at Kalkee and Ouyen to discuss the challenges with sustainable funding of rural councils.
VFF pesident David Jochinke said the federation wanted to encourage farmers to protest the increasing rates burden.
“We want to work with councils across Victoria to promote a balanced rating strategy that shares the burden between all rating categories,” he said.
“Northern Grampians Council has shown leadership by adopting a budget that balances the rates increase between residential, farm and business to 2.25 per cent. We hope other councils follow their lead.
“From the start, Yarriambiack Shire Council has strived to fairly share the rates burden by setting a standard 2.25 per cent rates increase across all categories.
“Buloke Shire is also actively managing the differential to balance the burden.”
He said capping rate increases to 2.25 per cent for each category was necessary to fairly share the rates burden.
However, he also acknowledged that it was not a long-term solution to funding rural councils.
“There is a lot more work to be done to create a sustainable funding framework for rural councils that addresses the broken rating system and the clear inequities between urban and rural councils,” he said.
“But while we work on those long-term solutions, we cannot expect farmers to shoulder the rates burden.”
- Horsham Rural City Council 2018-19 Budget and rates strategy adopted
- Yarriambiack council amends budget to bring farmers rate relief
- Northern Grampians Shire Council heavily reduce rate increase
- Buloke Shire Council lowers farm rate differential by 2 per cent after community consultation
- Ararat Rural City Council adopts final budget, council plan and rating strategy
- Hindmarsh Shire Council retains drafted rates