Wednesday, 4 March 2015
Ramsay calls on Andrews Government to fix unfair local government rates on farming community
Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay is calling on the Andrews Government to set up a Parliamentary inquiry into rating inequities to highlight the high cost of council rates for farmers.
“One of the most pressing and constant issues raised with me by farmers is the high cost of their council rates with some farmers paying as much as $25,000 per year or 8 per cent of their business costs.
“In fact, the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has undertaken research that has revealed the average farm in regional Victoria was paying nine times more in rates compared to commercial businesses.
“I’ve spoken to numerous farmers who are telling me their rates have risen in excess of 10 per cent annually over the past decade.
“In Ararat Rural City, the farming community, which equates to 20 per cent of rate payers, is paying 75 per cent of the council’s total rate revenue.
“The Moorabool Shire reports it has 1500 farming enterprises in the shire, when in fact there are only 412 individually owned properties comprising numerous separate rateable titles.
“The council says the average farm pays $1900 annually, but I understand farms with numerous titles are on average paying around $8000 a year.
Mr Ramsay said there is ample evidence showing that the local government rating methodology is unfair to farming enterprises under the capital-improved value formula.
“In Parliament last week I called on Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins to establish a ministerial advisory group, with the farming community represented, so that there is a broad discussion on the current inequitable local rating methodology.
“The Andrews Government should also set up a Parliamentary inquiry to investigate a more appropriate funding model for local government and a rating methodology that does not discriminate against farmers who have high capital value land but low cash income.
“A Parliamentary inquiry would also help to highlight other local government funding issues and provide a clearer picture of how significant the council rate contribution is from farmers.
“Although the Andrews Government intends to cap council rate rises to the Consumer Price Index, which was 2.3 per cent in 2014, and force councils to put their case to the Essential Services Commission if they want to raise their rates beyond this, the Government has made no commitment to provide additional funding to local government,” Mr Ramsay said.