HORSHAM Rural City councillors have officially passed the council's rating strategy and policy with a number of amendments.
The amended rating policy and strategy for 2019-23 was released to the community for consultation in March and 11 submissions were received. The amended document was discussed at the council's April meeting on Monday night.
Rates have been a contentious issue for the council since they rose to the capped increase of 2.25 per cent in 2018-19. However a breakdown meant residential rates decreased by 0.6 per cent, while farm rates increased by 11.8 per cent.
According to its 2019-20 draft Budget, the council is expected to set its rates cap increase at 2.25 per cent. This is 0.25 per cent below the 2.5 per cent state government imposed rate cap.
A summary of shifts across rating categories compared to 2018-19 figures show that the residential rate valuation change will be 1.8 per cent, while rural valuations will have a 4.82 per cent change.
This year will be the first time annual revaluations are conducted, rather than every second year.
A breakdown of rate impacts for individuals show that the change for residential ratepayers will be 9.19 per cent, while rural ratepayers will see a change of -5.83 per cent.
Commercial ratepayers will experience a 2.32 per cent change, while industrial will be a 2.69 per cent change.
Councillor David Grimble made a point of order at Monday's meeting regarding the wording of an amendment to document he put up at the council's March meeting.
The amendment matched the wording of a key recommendation in the independent Rates Strategy Advisory Committee's Rating Strategy Review.
The additional resolution written in the motion was: "farms carry an excessive rate burden that is recommended to be reduced at every general revaluation to achieve a more fair and equitable distribution of the rate burden".
Cr Grimble said the word "reduced" had been changed to "addressed" in the March meeting minutes.
"I was disappointed that this wrong wording was still in the draft, so the exact wording wasn't given to the general public to comment on. It wasn't good governance," he said.
See council's April 2019 meeting agenda below
The other amendments passed by the council following community consultation were: "to reduce the municipal charge from $287 to $280 rather than $200 as put out in the initial draft documents" and "to change the valuation variance trigger point for review of differentials from 5 per cent to 3.5 per cent".
Cr Les Power said he opposed the motion, claiming the council had "taken out pieces of the rates committee's report". He argued that the municipal rate should be lowered to $200.
"It's disappointing that we are supporting some parts of the community, but not those who are doing it really tough," he said.
Councillors Grimble, Alethea Gulvin, Mark Radford and John Robinson voted in favour of the motion, while Cr Power opposed it.
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