Farmers protest big rate rises

Some farmers upset by a big rise in rates they may have to pay the Waitaki District Council are winning support from Federated Farmers.

Yesterday, they put their case to the council at its draft 2010-11 annual plan submissions hearing.

The council proposes a 1.8% increase in its overall rates take, but how that impacts on ratepayers will depend on changes in property valuations.

Farmers on irrigated land, whose values have risen far more than residential properties, face substantial increases.

Federated Farmers said many farmers faced rates rises above 10%, some more than 30%.

"For those farmers, the effort council has expended to reduce the forecast rates increase means nothing, compared to the arbitrary effect of the district's revaluations," it said.

Federated Farmers wants the council to adopt a rates remission policy for anomalous rates increases and undertake a review to reduce the effect new valuations could have on rates.

North Otago president Ross Ewing said farmers wanted "a fairer deal and better system" for rating.

Farmer Geoff Keeling faces a 16% rates rise and could pay $31,000 next year.

"I already feel I shoulder too much of the cost of the district's services," he said.

He paid $2000 for tourism promotion - "I see no reason why I should be paying to promote other businesses when I pay thousands of dollars in levies a year to promote the product that comes off my farm."

Neil and Julie Hamilton protested that while the rates bills of farmers were substantially higher that the bills of average ratepayers, farmers lived further away from the majority of the council's services.


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