Farm­ers lodge rat­ing com­plaints

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - COUNCIL NEWS - By Yvette Brand

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.

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