Rural community split
THE biggest issue to hit the rural sector in the past 25 years has split the rural community and caused heartache and concern for many farmers who face an uncertain future because of rising rates prices.
Central Highlands Regional Council Concerned Rural Ratepayers Association representatives met with the Central Highlands Regional Council on Wednesday to discuss the rates issue, and president Kevin Pickersgill said the outcome was “optimistic”.
“We mentioned the categories and identified the obvious imbalances there, including the rural land,” he said.
“It really concerns every ratepayer and we’re reasonably confident that our negotiations with council could very well benefit every ratepayer.”
Mr Pickersgill said the group would have a fair indication of where council was headed by April next year. But council remained “pretty uncommitted” when discussing a rating split between mining, rural and urban sectors.
“It’s a situation they need to tread carefully with,” he said.
“Mines are only here for the short term and they flog our shire but at the end of their lifespan, it’ll be up to the rural and urban (ratepayers) to pick up what’s left of the town.
“We’ll have to pay for the footprint they’re leaving.”
Association secretary Rex Kirk said the wrong sectors were being made to “foot the bill”.
“Until there is some common sense and until more of those (mining) royalties come back into the community, we’ll be fighting,” Mr Kirk said.
“The mining and resources sector should be footing the bill more than they currently are.”