15 May 2012

Federated Farmers challenge rates increases

3:27 pm on 15 May 2012

Federated Farmers is on the rates war path again, saying increases proposed in some districts will put an unfair burden on farmers because of the way they will be applied.

Many local bodies are proposing changes to their funding systems in their long-term plans, moving to more targeted rates for some services.

Federated Farmers says it agrees with the concept of targeted rating because it should mean those getting the greatest benefits from specified services pay more.

But the federation's local body spokesperson, David Rose, says there is too much inconsistency in the way it is being applied.

It is an issue in Northland, where farmers say they are being unfairly targeted by proposed increases in road charges of up to 400% in the Kaipara District.

In South Canterbury, Federated Farmers is making a submission against the Waimate District Council's new funding policy which would increase some farmers' rates by more than a third.

Local branch chairman Colin Hurst says farmers are concerned about the lack of consultation.

"We requested last year that the council consult with Federated Farmers on the funding policy changes. We knew this was coming up and it was quite a shock when we finally saw the figures. Some farmers are rate rise of up to 37% - and these farmers won't be aware of it.

"Basically, they're putting a charge on each household on the farm. So a dairy farmer with more than one house will get loaded up with extra rates for the house. It's a little bit like double dipping."

Farmers have been urged to check out council funding plans. But David Rose says that may be easier said than done in some cases.

"Some of the plans have got an extreme amount of paper but actually lack the real detail. In a 400-page document it should all be there, but in some of these documents it's lacking - things like how it affects ratepayers, which is something that's meant to be there.

"It allows ratepayers to make a judgement on how the plan's going to work and indeed submit on it, but on some plans that's not there."