RURAL landowners may feel a reprieve from skyrocke

RURAL landowners may feel a reprieve from skyrocketing rates bills in the coming months after a successful round of property valuation consultation meetings with ratepayer groups and the Central Highlands Regional Council.

CHRC Concerned Ratepayers Association Incorporated president Kevin Pickersgill said the December meetings revealed to council that “a major correction was needed” with regard to four key points raised by the group.

“We’ve asked the CHRC to focus on four main points, those being the review of the rate revenue split, the banding or differential rating system, land valuations, and the review of council budget efficiencies,” Mr Pickersgill said.

“Land valuations have been clarified, so now we’re hoping to get a commitment for the other three (points).”

He said property market value movements had been determined through extensive reference to property sales and any property which involved mine or dam monies to purchase were not used as part of the land valuation assessment criteria.

Additionally, any property in a flood-prone area, both urban and rural, could apply for a reduction in the current land valuations.

The same applied for properties affected by parthenium weed.

Although the latest land valuations have not been completed, rural ratepayers are hoping council “cuts some slack” so farmer’s profit margins do not “take another killer hit”, Mr Pickersgill said.

“Because of the floods, income has been at a minimum because you can’t physically get cattle into the yards to get to the trucks.”

“Some of the guys out here were hit, and hit hard, by the flood so they have a good idea of what the extent of the damage is.

“Now that we have a major reduction in land valuations, we should hopefully see that flow through to our rates.

“I imagine a lot of people would be hard-pressed to pay their rates at the moment.”

Peak Downs landowners have joined the CHRC group in their fight for lower rates with member numbers now more than 250 people.

But more ratepayers are being urged to join.

“I’d like to ask other groups, regardless of whether they are urban or rural, if they are concerned about the direction the rates are heading to join this group because the bigger we are, the stronger we are,” Mr Pickersgill said.

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