Mathoura farmers cop 40 per cent council rate increase

By Anna McGuinness

A Mathoura farmer has slammed Murray River Council for increasing her rates by 40 per cent under a new rating structure adopted last week.

Cereal and stock farmers Heidi and Chris Glen have been left "incensed" by the decision, which will see them pay $12,610 in rates next financial year — up from $9076 — as the council attempts to harmonise rates between the former Wakool and Murray shires in southern NSW.

“It will hit us hard in the hip-pocket and we won’t receive more services,” Ms Glen said.

She said the rise in rates was a result of the farm's land value increasing by a whopping 60 per cent, compared to a 10 per cent increase three years earlier. It means farmers will pay more in council rates than people living in Woollahra in Sydney.

The 2019 valuation of the Glens’ land was $2,417,000. For similarly valued land in Woollahra, residents pay about $3000 in annual rates.

“It's unjustifiable, there's no way land value here went up that much in three years,” Ms Glen said.

But Elders Deniliquin rural sales consultant Matt Horn said the increase in land value over three years seemed reasonable.

“The main driver behind increased land value in the area is decreasing lending rates and rising commodity rates,” Mr Horn said.

Ms Glen said she was forced to pay the base rate of $273.35 five times, because her farm contained land under a variety of titles.

“We're a multi-generational farm with parcels in different family members’ names and we can't amalgamate for many thousands of dollars each time, it's not viable,” she said.

But she urged rural ratepayers with multiple assessments in the exact same name to amalgamate them.

Murray River Council chief executive Des Bilske said there were some larger changes than usual, both increases and decreases — a result of property values rising and harmonising rates between the merged councils.

“The new property valuations that were undertaken by the NSW valuer general’s office in 2019 now come into effect from July 1, along with the introduction of rates harmonisation across the council,” he said.

Rates and annual charges, with the exception of the stormwater levy, have been increased by the rate peg of 2.6 per cent.