Farmers will be disproportionately stung with high rates, a Victorian Government inquiry into the city of Ararat has heard.
The VFF fronted up to the Commission of Inquiry into the city, demanding to know the reasoning behind the council’s steep rates for commercial and farm businesses.
Although accounting for less than 13 per cent of the total Ararat economic output, farmers would contribute more than half of the $14 million the council expects to earn in rates under a plan to scrap the differential rating strategy.
Under the council’s uniform rating strategy farmers would face a 46 per cent rate hike despite commercial and industrial businesses projected to contribute 10.4 per cent to the council’s future revenue.
Primary producers are expected to pay $7.8 million in rates, or 55.1 per cent of the projected budget.
VFF president David Jochinke said the statistics showed alarming inequity in the council’s draft rating strategy.
‘‘Ararat council has not given a rational explanation to abolish differential rates; they have not provided any analysis on how the plan will impact ratepayers; they have not seriously explored alternative options; and they have not considered community evidence about the negative impact of the plan,’’ he said.
More that 150 people attended a VFF meeting to voice their concerns, with a special council meeting seeing 300 raise the issue and a further 600 submissions made from local primary producers opposing the proposal.
The commission is due to hand down its report on August 1.