HORSHAM district farmers will continue their push to achieve a “fair and equitable” rating strategy, despite Horsham council reaffirming its stance on its 2018-19 Budget and rating strategy.
About 100 farmers filled the gallery at Horsham council’s latest meeting on Monday night, where a petition on rating differentials was on the agenda.
Councillors voted to reaffirm their support for the adopted 2018-19 Budget and rating strategy, which includes an 11.8 per cent rate increase for farmers.
Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke, of Murra Warra, said the fight for a fair and equitable rates strategy for farmers was nowhere near finished. He said the farmers federation sought legal advice that showed the council could resubmit its 2018-19 Budget and rating strategy, but that conflicted legal advice to the council.
He said the council had “hidden behind process” to “justify” its rates strategy.
“If they want to hide behind a process and say that the process is right, but the numbers are showing that it’s completely unfair and not even equitable, then we will fight for that,” he said.
See pages 29 – 31 for petition:
Mr Jochinke said the council had said the rating system was flawed and unsustainable but had not acted to rectify this in the Budget.
“If that is their strategy, they are welcome to it – but we aren’t going to be bound to what can’t be done. We are looking at what can be done,” he said.
“With the numbers shown at that council meeting, councillors can see quite clearly the frustration they are creating.
“It isn’t any skulduggery on our behalf – getting farmers to get angry about things that don’t exist.
“This is real – real money, real people, real businesses. I am flattened that council can’t see that is the point we are trying to demonstrate.”
It appears most Councils are at least willing to listen to their Rural ratepayers and attempt to ease Rates burden.— Jason Pymer (@PymerJason) June 26, 2018
Except in Horsham Rural City but that is no surprise. Elsewhere they even listen to the gallery instead of insulting them.
Wonwondah farmer Jason Pymer, who attended the meeting, said he was disappointed the latest debate was shut down due to technicalities. Council officers considered Cr Grimble’s motion invalid because a similar motion has already been defeated and that Cr Robinson’s motion was unachievable.
“It appears council has made up its mind and doesn’t want to budge,” Mr Pymer said.
Mr Pymer said farmers had been affected by rates for a long time and it was a continuing frustration. He said he did not want the rural and residential sectors to become divided over the issue.
“I can only speak for myself, but we don’t want to see a divide between rural and residential,” he said. “I have plenty of good friends who have with nothing to do with farming, but as a community we need to get this right and that is getting lost.”