Ararat farmers have welcomed a decision by an inquiry into plans from the Rural City of Ararat that would have seen farmers’ rates rise by 45 per cent.
The commission of inquiry into the draft rating strategy handed down 12 recommendations to the council, including remaining with the current differential rating strategy that charges farmers 55 per cent of residential property rates.
It also recommended establishing a rating strategy advisory group to assist in developing a rating strategy.
Although accounting for less than 13 per cent of the total Ararat economic output, under the proposed plan farmers would contribute more than half of the $14 million the council expects to earn in rates.
Farmers would face a 46 per cent rate hike, despite commercial and industrial businesses being projected to contribute just 10.4 per cent to the council’s future revenue.
VFF president David Jochinke, who campaigned against the planned changes, welcomed the result.
‘‘This had been a real community achievement and is a sign of the outcomes we can achieve if we all work together,’’ he said.
‘‘There has been a lot of anger and frustration in the Ararat community over the council’s rating strategy and we’re all relieved to see that we have a way forward.
‘‘We have sent a clear message to all regional councils that the VFF will continue to put rural and regional Victoria first, but we need the passion of our members and others in the farming community to achieve real outcomes.’’
The Victorian Government has ordered the council to implement the commission’s recommendations in full.