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Shepparton farmers fed up with high rates

By Spencer Fowler Steen

Greater Shepparton farmers are fed up with paying disproportionately high rates compared to nearby municipalities, warning new businesses may set up shop in cheaper areas instead.

This follows an open letter signed by 80 Greater Shepparton ratepayers asking all council candidates to consider how they could create a fairer situation for residents.

An accompanying graph showed farmers in Greater Shepparton pay a quarter more on average than farmers in nearby local government areas including Bendigo, where farm rates are a staggering 30 per cent less.

A comparison of farm rates across the region. Greater Shepparton farmers say they're paying disproportionally high rates.

Kialla thoroughbred racehorse breeder Rhys Holleran said his rates had more than doubled since buying his property in 2011, despite stagnating property values and costs of living.

“It beggars belief that we’d be paying that,” he said.

“We’re not on town water, we have an ungraded road which has been graded once in the nine years, so I’m paying $6000 to get my bins taken out.

“I think we’re being disproportionally screwed.”

Out of proportion: Kialla thoroughbred racehorse breeder Rhys Holleran said his rates had more than doubled since buying his property in 2011.

Toolamba fruit grower Shane Hall said high rates were making Greater Shepparton uncompetitive, driving prospective businesses away to cheaper areas while increasing the burden on existing farmers.

“This isn’t a crack at individuals or groups, but over time council has become uncompetitive if you look at the rates compared to other councils,” he said.

“It’s a business point of view, we need businesses to thrive to generate economic activity to make Shepparton a great place.

“A lot of new businesses look at rates quite closely, so we want to attract businesses here.”

Greater Shepparton farm owners pay 41 per cent more than East Gippsland, 29 per cent more than Moira Shire, 25 per cent more than Benalla and 16 per cent more than Campaspe.

Change needed: Toolamba fruit grower Shane Hall believes Greater Shepparton has become uncompetitive with rates higher than surrounding municipalities.

Dookie winemaker Richard Tallis said there was a clear disconnect between the high rates and services available to farmers, further exacerbated by higher rates compared to other municipalities.

“You could be paying $20,000 more in rates and what services do we get for that money?" Mr Tallis said.

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