Council to consider farm rate relief

Council to consider farm rate relief

East Gippsland Shire councillors will consider allocating $1.51 million in rate relief to drought-affected farmers at its meeting in Orbost tomorrow.

This follows the Victorian Government’s announcement last month of a Local Government Service Support Payment to council.

Mayor, Cr John White, thanked the government for this support.

“Without the support of the Victorian Government, being able to consider providing rate relief for our farmers would not have been possible,” Cr White said.

“As councillors, we have heard the community’s request for rate relief. The recommendation from officers to be tabled tomorrow reflects those sentiments. It is also in line with the joint Looking Ahead document council produced with Wellington Shire in response to immediate, short and long term needs for our drought-affected communities.

“During this drought and in the Looking Ahead document, council has been clear in that rate relief would not be possible without the support of state or federal governments. With the support of the State, council is now able to consider supporting our farmers with rate relief.

“It has been proposed to allocate the $1.51 million in full to rate relief with all administrative costs associated with the allocation being borne by council.”

The recommendation for consideration by council is: That council approves the application of the Local Government Service Support Payment of $1,510,000 for drought affected farmers in East Gippsland to rate relief for all farm property assessments classified in council’s rating system as farm properties at December 31, 2019, on a proportional basis, based on the applicable 2019/20 farm rates raised as at December 31, 2019, excluding any municipal or waste charge.

This would equate to approximately 32 per cent rate relief of the 2019/20 rates applied to all farm rate assessments as at December 31, 2019. Council currently has about 2700 farming property rate assessments.

If approved tomorrow, council will work on the logistics of allocating the rating credit, including contacting all ratepayers with a farm property assessment once the funding has been received from the Victorian Government.

In addition to determining how to allocate the Victorian Government’s $1.51m at tomorrow’s meeting, council will also consider revising how it will allocate the $500,000 committed in the 2019/20 budget for drought support to en- sure the initiatives deliver the best possible outcomes for East Gippsland.

The agenda for the council meeting is avail- able on council’s website or at any of the customer service centres. The meeting will be live streamed on YouTube.