29 September, 2022
TRC pursues farmer rates relief
TABLELANDS Mayor Rod Marti is leading the charge to find ways to relieve the rates pain for farmers and graziers who have been hit hard by extremely high land valuations
This year, farmers were slugged with hefty rises in their annual rates, some paying up to $20,000 more, due to very high increases in the State land valuations.
They have called on the council to act to curb future rate rises and to join them in their bid to have water licences removed from the land valuation process.
In a special Mayoral Minute at last week’s meeting, Cr Marti moved that council lobby the Queensland Valuer General to remove water licences from the process of determining unimproved land values.
“This basically stems from the land valuations which have had a fairly significant impact on our Category F and Category G landholders in particular, that’s our primary production and broadacre grazing,” he said.
“So what I am proposing with this Mayoral Minute is that council makes representations to the Valuer General regarding the attachment of water licences to land values.
“It’s our understanding that water licences have been attached to land values and this has exacerbated the spike in valuations of land.
“It’s also our understanding that farmers have made representations to the Department (of Re-sources) and the Valuer General and we will also make representations to the Valuer General about the attachment of water licences to land values.
Mayor Marti also moved that rating categories be reviewed in a bid to give the council more flexibility in the event that land valuations continue to soar.
“Council has been undertaking work so we are better equipped to deal with land valuation spikes in the future,” he said.
“So, we just want to make sure that our differential rating categories are as agile as they can be and look at things like banding, perhaps, in some categories which may give us more agility to minimise the impact of land valuations.”
Cr David Clifton, who is chair of the council’s new Agricultural Advisory Committee, welcomed the Mayor’s move.
“Mayor, I really applaud this motion – I think it will go a long way towards the beginning of the process of healing the relationship between agriculture and the TRC,” he said.
“I want to make the point, and councillors around this table will know, that I regard this as a belated step - we should have done this earlier, but I, nevertheless, strongly applaud it.
“I think this step, in company with the establishment of the Agricultural Advisory Committee will leave us a very, very good platform in the future and for future councils and will improve dramatically our relationship with agriculture.”
Mayor Marti did not address farmers’ concerns that the council wants to remedy what he described during his Budget address as “a rating inequity”.
He said in his budget speech and in subsequent media reports that “council is committed to containing rate rises for residential properties in order to address inequity in council’s rates burden across the rating categories”.
“While residential properties account for 24 per cent of our land value, their rates contribution equates to 33 per cent of rates revenue.
“This rating inequity needs to be addressed over time and we’ve made a modest start with this budget,” he said at the time.
Farmers dispute this position, saying they rarely use facilities and services council pro-vides but pay more than their fair share of rates