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Stop the Ararat rate rort


10 August 2017


UPDATE
08 11 2017

Ararat farmers score rates win

Farmers in Ararat have scored a majority victory in their battle over council rates, with Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins today knocking down the Council’s plan to slug farmers with a 45 per cent rate hike.

The outcome follows a sustained campaign run by the VFF, AustralianFarmers and local farmers. Read more here  


In a shock decision, Ararat Rural City Council has voted to slug farmers with a 45 percent rate hike.

With other councils considering a similar move, we need to send the message that farm businesses cannot be used as an ATM by local government.

Background

Currently in Ararat, farms pay 55 percent of the general rate amount. This 'differential rate' is fair because despite their size, farms typically have only a single dwelling and receive fewer services than other property types.

At a Council meeting on 16 May 2016, two options were put forward regarding the differential rate: one was to continue the status quo; and the other was to increase the differential rate from 55 percent to 75 percent.

Consultation in the lead up to the meeting had heard concerns from farmers about the affordability of this proposed increase.

Despite proper process, a third option was surprisingly submitted from the floor: a 45% increase by removing differential rates altogether!

More surprising still: four out of seven councillors actually backed the proposal, despite community concerns and a lack of consultation.

The surprise rate rort would amount to a 45% increase in rates paid by farmers. Source: 2017 Ararat Rural City Draft Rating Strategy, and ABS farm business data.

Why does this matter?

According to the council, farmers make up 24 percent of all ratepayers. Under this proposal that minority group will be responsible for 55% of all rates income next financial year.

This is not a land tax; it’s a tax on regional investment. In reality, the Council is proposing to take $2.4m out of the economy and into its pockets, hurting farming suppliers and service providers in the general community.

It is impossible for farmers to pass on increases. Council has recognised this in the past and the whole point of differential rates is to give everyone a fair go, so there is a lot of frustration and anger in the Ararat community around this decision.

Farmers represent only 24 percent of ratepayers, but under the rate rort proposal will contribute 55 percent of Council rate income.

How can you help?

The Council was accepting submissions until 2 June 2017. The AustralianFarmers community lodged over 150 submissions opposing the increase.

You can register for updates by entering your details on this page.

You can also contact each Ararat Councillor to communicate your concerns. Their details are available here.

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