Farmers lodge rating complaints
Two farmers with land identified for future residential development in Warragul will appeal rates notices that hit them with up to 300 per cent increases.
Duncan McNeil and Chris Bagot accept their land is earmarked for residential development under Warragul’s Precinct Structure Plan.
But, while their land is still used for farming purposes, they object to paying significantly higher rates.
With this year’s rates notices reflecting new property revaluations, Mr McNeil and Mr Bagot were horrified at the massive rates hike they face.
Mr Bagot’s land is in Butler’s Trk, south of Warragul. The 80-hectare property is a support block for his Jindivick dairy farm.
Revaluations resulted in the land increasing more than 500 per cent in value. Accordingly, his rates bill jumped a massive 340 per cent.
“We have no intention of selling or developing the property. We have been hamstrung,” Mr Bagot said.
“All we are doing is farm it and the use hasn’t changed.
Mr Bagot admits his family was informed of the land being rezoned for urban growth but said they did not understand the impact that would have on their valuations and rates until this year’s revaluation.
They received a supplementary rates notice last year and then hit with the new valuation this year.
Mr Bagot has met with shire rates department staff and lodged an official objection.
His biggest grievance was the land should continue to be valued as farm land until it was developed.
“We are genuine farmers, we aren’t land bankers. Do they (the shire) want us farmers.
“Our family has owned parts of that property for 90 years and it is a core part of our dairy business.
“We directly support five families through wages and support local businesses so there are flow on effects through the community,” he said.
Mr McNeil said he was not disputing the value of the land but its use was the same as it had always been.
His 52-hectare property in Pharoah’s Rd is part of an overall beef farming operation. Rates on the property increased almost 50 per cent this year.
Mr McNeil said there had been a slow climb in the valuation of his property since the PSP was adopted, but not to the extent of this year’s increase.
He believes the sale of a 57-hectare farm property in Lillico Rd for residential development had caused other urban growth properties to skyrocket in value.
“It’s all very well to say I’ve got a farm worth millions of dollars but I don’t want to see it and I am getting rated out of farming.
“If I start developing the land, I have not got a problem with paying the rates. But my family has been there since 1930 and we are still doing what we have always done there.
“The money I make off my farm hasn’t changed. Until I put houses there, I should pay a rural rate,” Mr McNeil said.
Baw Baw Shire corporate and community services director Mark Dupe said council had not received a notable increase in queries following this year’s revaluations.
Mr Dupe said about 130 formal objections had been received, which equated to 0.49 per cent of eligible properties submitting a formal objection.
“Properties in the PSP zone had a number of queries, although strong sales evidence in the municipality led to only two or three formal objections,” he said.
The process for objections is independent of council who act as the conduit for the Valuer and Valuer Generals (VG) Office of Victoria.
Once objections close all objections received are forwarded for action. The appointed valuer will contact objectors to discuss their concerns and inspect the property
Following inspections, the valuer makes a recommendation to either allow the objection which will reduce the valuation, disallow and leave it the same or disallow and raise the valuation as the valuer may consider it has been set too low.