Bundy farmers claim some have seen 300 per cent rates rise
THE region's cane growers and the farming community are calling for a fair go after agricultural land saw a significant rates rise.
The region's agricultural land value was increased 46.6 per cent, leading to the rise.
Canegrowers Isis chairman Mark Mammino says farmers feel they've been left out of discussions around rates rises, a further blow in the wake of years of drought, low sugar prices, the Paradise Dam saga and a shortage of backpacker labour.
Mr Mammino says agriculture is one of the sectors keeping Bundaberg's economy afloat and producers deserve to be given a say.
"I'm hearing reports of some 200-300 per cent increases, so we're talking some significant dollars," he said.
"The Queensland Government's made it pretty clear it's agriculture and mining that's pretty much keeping the economy going."
Mr Mammino said he believed there were alternative actions that could have been taken, such as adjusting the rate in the dollar or capping the maximum farms would have to pay.
The lifelong farmer said it was a matter of protecting the local economy because, for example, if a farmer had to allocate an extra $20,000 dollars to their rates, that was $20,000 not going to another local business.
"They had options available where they could have capped the maximum increase," Mr Mammino said.
He said the council could have also phased the increase in over a matter of years instead of all at once and said the method of the announcement and the lack of communication was a blow to the region's producers.
"The last couple of years have been extremely tough, and now to cop this... it's a bit hard to take," Mr Mammino said.
The council did not respond by deadline to questions put forward, but speaking after the handing down of the budget in June, Finance spokesman Steve Cooper said in order to put money in the bank there would always be some sacrifices.
Cr Cooper said agricultural land in particular was likely to be impacted by rises.
"Valuation's in the dollar, and the valuation we've taken up - we did consider it with a lot of concern for those taking high risks - but we really did accept the fact that the people that are getting the rates increase because of the valuation have had a very successful time," he said at the time.
"I know there will be some fringe farming areas, but when you look at the numbers and we've looked at the detail, those numbers are very, very few.
"And in most cases, they are legitimate, those charges are legitimate."
Mr Cooper said some of the nut farm valuations were "extremely high", because that's what they paid for the land.
Reportedly, of the 1797 farming properties, only about 50 made objections to the Valuer-General.
Mr Cooper said what the council was providing came at a cost.
He said they worked hard as a previous council to make sure money was in the bank.