The South Burnett Regional Council has rolled its Road Levy in to the General Rates.
The South Burnett Regional Council has rolled its Road Levy in to the General Rates. Jodie Dixon

Farmers are facing a big rate hike

LAND owners in Durong have estimated their rates will rise by 8-17.5per cent following the South Burnett Regional Council's decision to roll the Road Levy into general rates.

The individual rate rise will be weighted based on the improved land value of a property. The farmers got together at a meeting on Saturday, July 7, to discuss the changes. Greg Weiland chaired the meeting.

"The meeting was well attended by ratepayers reflecting the interest and concern of rural rate payers about the increase of rates and how it has been done by the council,” he said.

"Rural rate payers discussed and compared how this general rate hike will affect them.

"People calculated and compared rate rises around the room. The extra few dollars the rural rate payers will pay can range from $1000-4000 per year on top of usual rate charges. This will have significant impact on rural ratepayers. The new calculation imposed on them means they will be paying much more through their rates than other rate payers and is enormously different from 2.5per cent,” Mr Wieland said.

The farmers were concerned that a user-pays model doesn't take into account producers who live on and mostly use state-owned roads.

"Those that do access council roads stated that these roads are used mainly by travellers and not local traffic,” Mr Weiland said.

"To charge rural ratepayers significantly extra for roads which ultimately belong to the whole network of the SBRC region roads is not justifiable.”

It was also discussed that the unimproved value of the land does not reflect the earning capacity.

Holdings that used to supported large families could no longer do that. One instance was cited of land which previously supported three couples and 17 children combined, was now merely supporting one couple.

"The feeling of the meeting was that this action in which the SBRC has singled out the rural rate payers to fund its own network of council roads is discriminatory. It was also noted that the SBRC is promoting divisiveness between rural and urban people. Council representatives will meet with ratepayers at Durong Community Hall on Thursday, July 12 at 5.30pm.