The Councillor candidates were asked the following questions in regards to general rates
Q1 On the topic of keeping annual rate increased at an affordable level … If elected, do you give your commitment to vote against any General Rate increase greater than the Consumer Price Increase (CPI)? YES OR NO
Q2. On the topic of treating cane farmers fairly … If elected, in regards to General Rates, do you give your commitment to vote against any increase in the Rate in the Dollar for Category D Rural Sugar Cane until the percentage of General Rates paid by cane farmers (currently 44%) is no more than the “total valuation of all cane farm land as a percentage of the total valuation of all land in the Shire” (currently 26%)? YES OR NO
There responses are below in ballot order:
I will do my best to work towards a no rate increase. If elected I will then be able to research and address the structure of fees for each category so it is fair for all parties.
Q1. YES provided Canegrowers supports that this will result in reduced Council works and services
Q2. YES provided Canegrowers supports that this will result in reduced Council works and services
I do support that these proposals be thoroughly researched and results clearly communicated with ratepayers by the new Council before budget adoption.
To address your request for commitment to supporting your position on rates I will say your statements ABSOLUTELY reflect my position and is one of my main motivations for standing in this election.
These inequities must be addressed. The creeping rates and increased fees are distorting the costs of business.
I have farmed in Dalbeg for 36 years ; bred the Australian Brahman Cow of the year; Been NQ Rural Woman of the Year; held senior positions in Government ie Queensland Vice President of Women in Local Government ; Roundtable Member of Ministers Advisory Committees and Trade Delegate [Australian] to Spain and France; Australian Representative at the International Women in Rural Industries Conference etc. and feel these credentials can allow me to voice an experienced dialogue on issues which need some focused and magnified examinations in the next term of Council.
These issues you have raised and their effect on the costs of business need to be examined, and bench-marked against similar shires to raise a proven argument using best practice examples. Then inappropriate structures can be redesigned. This is going to need six councillors with the ability and commitment to follow through with this process.
I will, with all I can bring to the team this shire elects, be unceasing in my quest for this to be the path the rates debate takes from the very beginning of this term.
In the cold reality of our process it depends on the voters which issues are seen as priorities. Rural industry was kind to Alex and me but the recent policies of all government have not helped when things toughened up.
Burdekin, despite being a rural shire has not had a rural voice for many years and it shows in the direction of policy and management.
We need to be capably represented at the table for things to improve .That is entirely up to the Shire when it votes. I truly hope , for all of us, they recognize our industry and vote for balance.
I have considered both points raised very carefully. From the outset, what must be realized is that I have never been involved in any discussion whatsoever with respect to the setting up of rates for ratepayers in the Burdekin. I am looking from the outside – in, and to make any improper response would be or could be embarrassing and regrettable down the track in the event I was elected to the Council. I have no prior knowledge in what has to be considered in the setting of rates for all ratepayers but as mentioned below some matters have to be considered.
I do believe personally that any rate increase should be kept to the minimum and generally in line with Inflation/CPI increases. I also believe that one must also allow for the unknown factor such as wage increases, annual works program, insurance rises, auditing costs, costs of this election, urgent work requirements to name a few which would also have to be considered when setting rates for the upcoming budget otherwise this will create a problem of where will the money come from.
It is very difficult for me as an outsider to make any commitment here. If I was already a councillor and having experience in setting up a forthcoming budget, I may be in a position to respond to the questions differently.
One thing I do know is that I do not wish to make a foolish response here and regret it down the track.
Consequently my response to both topics is ‘No’.
I will make a commitment to working as hard as I can to ensure all Burdekin ratepayers are treated fairly. I am currently concerned that from the information I have been able to gather, and supported by your email, that the cane-farming sector appears to be paying a disproportionate share of the rate income.
I refuse to answer your questions with a yes or no answer as you are asking for a commitment to a position where I don’t hold all the information. I also believe it is far better to work with those elected to achieve a desired outcome rather than just be against the budget. The CPI has little relevance to the cost pressures in running Council operations in exactly the same way CPI has little to do with the cost pressures of Farming.
I can assure you of my support in trying to get the disproportion of rate income from Category D addressed.
Fair and sustainable rates should be addressed as a priority to be made fair for all rate payers. Rates should not be of such rate burden as to stifle profitability, expansion and growth.
There is a need to get our rates in my opinion to a level that better represents the value of our businesses in this Shire we need to give confidence to all levels of farming. From the smaller area growers to large scale operations all these farming businesses means jobs, prosperity in the future for the Burdekin Shire. The local economy ebbs and flows not only on the price of sugar, but talking to shop owners, it even goes up and down on monthly cane payments.
Sugar cane primarily is the life blood of the community. Agriculture in general is the driving force of our towns and their economies we need in Council a farming friendly attitude. Burdekin farmers should be recognised for their contribution to not only our local region but to Queensland and Australia. Not be treated as a cash cow for rates revenue. As a life long farmer myself, I know that with rising costs the profit margin for sugar cane growing is getting tighter and tighter. As a Council it should be lobbying with great robustness Governments to lower electricity for irrigators, and that’s just for starters. Why wasn’t our Shire drought declared earlier? Where was the push locally to have this done at least four to five months earlier as to get relief from their fixed charges in our power bills? Let’s not forget graziers also, will they start to get hammered with huge rate rises as the cattle prices rise?
To sum up there has to be a farness in rates. Money saved from high rates (the highest sugar cane land rates in Queensland) will flow to the towns and businesses helping their bottom line and ability to not only keep employees but create new jobs, new jobs, more home owners, more rates equals growth.
Perina Dalle Cort
Q1. My commitment is to always aim for the smallest rate increase possible. CPI has absolutely no relevance to council operating costs and is not comparing apples with apples.
Q2. Council has heard the concerns of the canegrowers and instigated an independent review of current rates categories with the aim of ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of the rating burden. I look forward to receiving this report and if elected follow though with the process.
If re-elected, I will continue to look for all savings in an endeavour to keep rate increases to a minimum.
Council has voted to engage an independent consultant to conduct a Rating Review. This review has not been conducted for many years and I am looking forward to the outcome.
In my personal opinion I would like to see DNR provide rural valuations as site value to reduce the inconsistencies between site and unimproved.
Having worked for almost 12 months now in Clare for a strong cane growing family I have now a much better understanding position of the issues affecting so many rural producers .
As a cane farmer myself, I intend to stand up for and represent all farmers as best I possibly can so naturally my answers are yes and yes.
Of course general rate increases are a concern for any newly elected councillor and I commit to working at minimising increases for all Burdekin ratepayers. It is my commitment to thoroughly investigate the facts presented and make a decision on that basis. It would be irresponsible of me to give a definitive answer prior to evaluating all material.
I am aware of the disparity between percentage rates paid to percentage of land valuation of cane farm land and give an undertaking to review this imbalance if successful in gaining a position on council.
The Burdekin economy is heavily reliant on the viability of the cane industry and recent difficult times has a flow on effect to the entire region. Support for our local sugar cane industry is paramount for our local government bodies.
Times are tough. There has been no flow on of money through the district after last years crush due to the increasing costs of farming and living. The whole town is hurting. I will absolutely commit to voting against any General Rate increase greater than CPI.
As short as five to six years ago, the rates were fairly equitable. There has been a slow one sided leak ever since and it is now time for that to change. Having a few rural representatives on council will help stop that leak and return the councils rates to be a more fair and equitable system.
One of my key point, is to work with the council finance team to develop a rate system that is fair to all parties.
Why the cane farmer is paying approx 3 times that of Cat A is beyond me.
I worked for the council for 24 years before going to Brisbane and working for a private contracting company for 20 years.
I retired last year and returned home.
The residence of this shire need to accept that the town people need the farmers just as much as the farmers need the town people.
Hopefully this will give you an insight on where I am at and what my goals will be.
Q1. In the past three terms of Council I have always pushed to limit rate rises to a minimum. This year would be no different. If we could limit our increases to CPI or less, this would be fantastic. Unfortunately many services and products supplied to Council go up more than CPI.
Q2. Each year Council (Councillors and staff) considers all rate payers when bringing down their budget. Over the years we have looked at many ways in trying to share the burden equitably. This year we have engaged a company to do this externally as a third party, to identify areas where we may not have considered in the past. I am always happy to consider new ideas. I might point out that my relations and some of my best friends are canegrowers so I am not immune to the financial burdens this sector of our ratepayers have.