THE release of 2020-21s council rates notices has prompted mixed reactions from Horsham property owners, with some shocked at an overall increase of their rate prices and property valuations.
This comes a year after the Victorian government completed its 2019 - 2020 rating system review.
The Victorian government supported 27 of the review's 56 recommendations in full, supported nine in principle, and did not support 20.
The 2021-22 council budget was the first to implement the review's changes, with a 1.5 per cent rate increase cap.
Horsham Rural City Council mayor Robyn Gullie said 1.5 per cent cap applied to the total pool of rates collected across the municipality and could vary based on individual properties.
"When we do the formula we have to calculate the entire pool from last year and make sure it does not increase by more than 1.5 per cent," she said.
"It also depends on the movement of individual property values, some would have gone up and some would have gone down.
"I don't know of anyone who is actually happy with their property value going down. Most people like to see it go up but the consequence of that is their rates bill obviously goes in the same direction."
Cr Gulline said anyone who believes their property valuation was incorrect could appeal the value.
Have a story you would like to share? Get in touch - email@example.com.
"Capacity the challenge rates is based on valuation, if they do not believe the valuation is a fair value they have a right to appeal against that," she said.
"The cents in the dollar for council is set. It goes back to the valuation of property, and if they feel it is overvalued that is a reason they can appeal their rates."
Wimmera VFF president and Lubeck farmer Graeme Maher said he knows other farmers in the area who have seen rate increases of 10 to 20 per cent from the past year.
This follows estimations in the Horsham Rural City Council revenue rating plan, which projected an average 10.65 per cent rate increase for the municipality's farming community, due to increasing property values.
The projected increase saw farmers protest a council budget meeting earlier in the year.
Mr Maher said the farming community was paying an unfair amount of rates due to increasing property values which were out of farmers' control.
"Agricultural land has gone up significantly as of late, not driven by farms but by things out of our control. Superannuation companies, wind farms. We pay an ever-increasing percentage of the burden," he said.
Mr Maher said he would like to see regional councils like Horsham adopt a "Pie Model" rating system, which Ararat Rural City Council uses.
The "Pie Model" aims to ensure that the rate burden on each sector remains largely the same each year.
This means that even while farmland prices have risen dramatically in the past 12 months, the farming sector continues to account for the same percentage of the rate burden.
"As a resident of Horsham, you have probably paid less in rates, but farmers' rates are rising 10, 15 and 20 per cent. Our services don't improve 10, 15 and 20 per cent," he said.
"But because of the system, the capital rating system, that just means that farmers pay a larger and larger burden. It doesn't mean we have any more money, we just pay a larger part of the rate burden."
Earlier this year, Horsham Rural City Council passed a revised rates and charges financial hardship property.
There are several ways this hardship policy can aid Horsham residents.
A payment plan to schedule payments, including weekly, monthly or quarterly plans to ease the pressure when receiving a large bill.
Any property owner requiring advice or assistance with paying their rates can contact Horsham Rural City Council on 5382 9777, or visit council's website, hrcc.vic.gov.au/Home.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Did you know you can receive updates straight to your inbox? To make sure you're up-to-date with news from across the region, sign up here.