Rural rates up 7.6%

LANDOWNERS living in the western half of Gannawarra Shire will face a 7.6 per cent rise in municipal rates from July 1.

As part of council's efforts to transform to one single uniform rate across its four classifications by 2020/21, the rates of the 428 properties deemed to operate for dryland farming purposes will increase significantly higher than those who own residential, commercial or irrigated properties.

The municipal rates of commercial and industrial landowners will rise by 0.3 per cent next financial year, with irrigated property rates to go up by 1.4 per cent and residential rates to increase by 1.5 per cent.

Although the move falls within the State Government's Fair Go Rates System's goal of an average two per cent increase in funds generated through rates payments, Cr Charlie Gillingham and former mayor, Cr Lorraine Learmonth opposed the move when the draft budget was presented to council on Wednesday night.

"When this transition is complete, all ratepayers will have the same uniform rate in the dollar applied to the Capital Improved Value of their property, regardless of where they use their land for residential, commercial, industrial or farming purposes," council's director of corporate services, Tom O'Reilly said.

"Council views this as a fair and equitable distribution of the rate burden, as it ultimately removes any comparative rating advantage one class of ratepayers may have over another, as occurs under the existing differential rating structure."

All rates collected, as well as the $100 municipal charge per property, will help support a $9.084 million capital works program, headlined by $2.845 million in road initiatives.

Around $1 million of the funds will go towards rehabilitating sealed roads throughout the municipality, with funding coming from the Federal Government's Roads to Recovery program.

A $910,000 grant will help with council's $1.01 million gravel re-sheeting works, with $835,000 being allocated to bitumen road reseals.

A $2.946 million surplus is predicted, with salaries and wages for staff increasing by 1.75 per cent and no new employee positions proposed.

"Obviously council would like to deliver above and beyond for our community, however in the current financial climate we have to be fiscally responsible and ensure that we are practical and set achievable goals for the entire municipality," Gannawarra mayor, Cr Brian Gibson said.

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