Farmers say they're subsidising district

Federated Farmers has slammed the proposed rates hike for farmers in the Gore district, saying the rural sector is being forced to subsidise district-wide spending.

The concerns of Eastern Southland Federated Farmers are among 64 submissions to the Gore District Council's draft annual plan, with the public hearing held yesterday.

The council proposes an overall rates increase of 3.76 per cent across the district, but Federated Farmers says farmers were "generally facing increases of between 7 and 11 per cent".

Eastern Southland Federated Farmers executive members Jeremy McPhail and John Gardyne said farmers' rates bills were already much higher than those of their urban counterparts in the district and the proposed increases would add hundreds of dollars to their rates bills.

"Rural ratepayers are being hit harder than ever with their rates bill and are being forced to subsidise district-wide spending."

They questioned why the council thought it appropriate to increase its reliance on property value-based rates, saying it was inequitable, unfair and failed to take into account whether ratepayers had the ability to pay.

The annual plan says $15.74 million will be collected from all ratepayers in the district in 2014-15.

Projects the council is considering in its draft plan are the establishment of a $23,500 dog park at Hamilton Park; building a $13,000 fence around the Eccles St playground; and raising a $1.9m loan for stage one of a wastewater improvement project for south and west Gore.

The council will consider the public submissions on June 17 and formally adopt the plan on June 24.

The Southland Times