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Farmers: Be Watchful For Stray Rates

As rate demands for 2003/04 reach farmers' mailboxes some have noticed new ‘targeted rates’ appearing that are applied to each ‘separately occupied part of a property’ says Southland Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson

“This is one of the new rating tools made available to local authorities in the new Local Government (Rating) Act 2002, which came into effect on 1 July. While it seems reasonable for Councils to rate dwellings rather than the whole farm for public services, farmers need to be careful that these new rates are properly applied.

“Southland farmers recently discovered these targeted rates or "UACs" were being applied to every title of the farm. Some consisted only of bare land or had stock sheds on them.

In rating law "occupied" means inhabited by people, not stock. Southland District Council was notified and staff is moving quickly to correct the error.

Nicolson said that farmers needed to be careful of stray rates landing on their properties. "Councils have got a brand new rating Act and there are bound to be teething problems as various Councils take up some of the new mechanisms."

"Federated Farmers has been working with members to ensure that new rates, such as the targeted rate on dwellings, are legally applied. There is no other watchdog for farmers on this one" concluded Mr Nicolson

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