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Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young says members are unhappy with the recent Gore District Council rates strike for rural properties.

At last week’s extraordinary meeting, the council’s annual plan with the new rating examples was adopted.

In May the council announced the expected rate increase throughout the district would be 2.84%.

However, eight out of the nine capital value rural property categories experienced a rates increase of more than 3.2%.

Rural properties with a capital value of $800,000 had the highest increase in rates with 8.52% and properties worth $7.5million had the next highest increase with 5.32%.

In comparison, only three Gore residential property categories had an increase above the predicted 2.84%.

The highest rates increase was for properties worth $50,000: 3.26%.

Gore residential properties worth $650,000 had a 1.61% decrease in rates.

Mr Young said it appeared rural ratepayers were carrying more than their share of the rates increase load.

“Some of the urban people appear to have got a reduced rate demand for the coming year.

“Some of the rural people have increased by up to 8%.

“That hardly seems fair.

“It appears right across the board all rural properties have been lumbered with an extra piece of rating.”

One of the key drivers for the increase to rural ratepayers was the decrease in the uniform annual general charge (UAGC) which was the same for all ratepayers, he said.

“If it goes up it draws in more from every ratepayer right across the board.”

The group would have liked more time to “state our case and have more engagement with the council”.

Gore District Council chief executive Steve Parry said comparing rural rating examples to those of the urban sector was not an accurate comparison as a farmer was paying a rate that covered a residence and land.

A more accurate comparison would be what rates a small business owner in town paid for the property where the business was based and the business owner’s residence.

“That’s a fair comparison,” Mr Parry said.

In 2015, councillors voted to drop the level of the UAGC to no more than 25%.

“A high UAGC was going to penalising lower value properties.

“The higher the percentage of the UAGC the less impact on higher value properties, the more impact on lower value properties.”

The quotable value (QV) of a property could result in a rates increase; that a higher than average rise in QV would also incur a higher rates increase accounted for the increase in the rates for rural properties with a capital value of $800,000.

If everyone’s property values increased uniformly “there would be no lumpiness in the rates distribution”.