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Bega Valley Shire CouncilBega Valley Shire Council

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Farmland rating review underway

Farmland in the shire is undergoing a rating review in line with requirements of the Local Government Act.Thursday 8 June 2017

A review of land currently rated as farmland in the Bega Valley Shire is underway to meet with state legislation requiring Councils to have up to date records on rateable properties.

Owners of farmland in the Shire were recently contacted informing them of the land review and the information required to update Council’s records.

Director of Strategy and Business Services, Graham Stubbs said, “A review of farmland is long overdue. It’s important that all rateable land in the Shire is rated in relation to its actual use.

“Currently, the Local Government Act requires all rateable land to be classified as residential, business, mining or farmland, and to meet this requirement Council is required to have up to date records.

“To be considered farmland, the main source of land income is derived from certain recognised farming activities, including grazing, animal feedlots, dairying, pig-farming, poultry farming, viticulture, orcharding, bee-keeping, horticulture, vegetable growing, crop growing, forestry or aquaculture.

“It’s important to note that the review has no effect on the zoning of a property, and zoning has no impact on the categorisation for rates.

“There is currently some misunderstanding in the community around the recent deferral of the Fire and Emergency Services Levy. The land review and the levy are two separate issues and it is still a requirement that all property owners with farmland submit the information we need to update our records.

“In the Bega Valley Shire this equates to about 950 properties being reviewed and re-categorised if necessary.

“By categorising land that relates to its actual use, we are ensuring the funds received from all rateable land meet the requirements of the NSW Local Government Act 1993. This guarantees the rates charged correspond with the actual land use taking place on local properties,” Mr Stubbs said.

For more information please contact Bega Valley Shire Council on 6499 2222.

Farmland rating review: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

  • Farmland applications relate only to the category under which a property is rated
  • This review has no effect on the zoning of a property, and zoning has no impact on the categorisation for rates
    • Rates categories are determined under Sections 514-518 of the Local Government Act
    • Zoning is based on the Local Environment Plan, under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act
  • To be rated as Farmland under the definition in the Local Government Act:
    • Farming must be the dominant use of the property
    • The property must be of ‘significant or substantial commercial purpose’
    • Generally speaking, the farming operations should be the primary source of income for the property owner (i.e. hobby farms are not farmland)
    • The size of a property does not automatically indicate it is Farmland for rating purposes
  • The review of the farmland category is still relevant regardless of the Fire and Emergency Services Levy being deferred
    • We still need to ensure that we are rating people under the correct rates category
    • Our records need to be up to date and accurate (the number of farmland properties we have vs residential or business)
    • The FESL classifications are a different classification altogether, and remain on record in our system as these will need to be available if the FESL proceeds.
  • Why do we need to do it?
    • The Local Government Act requires properties rated Farmland to fit a specific definition
    • We have not conducted a review in many years – property uses may have changed, or properties have been split up into smaller lots, so some properties may no longer fit the definition of farmland
    • We need to update our rating records as a requirement of the Local Government Act
  • Farmland and residential properties have historically been rated the same amounts
  • We will not be conducting site inspections unless necessary to determine the dominant use of the property or obtain more information
    • Therefore, the more information the ratepayer provides, the less likely we will need to do this
    • We would contact the ratepayer before attending the property if an inspection is required.

Local Government Act 1993

Section 515 Categorisation as farmland

(1) Land is to be categorised as
"farmland" if it is a parcel of rateable land valued as one assessment and its dominant use is for farming
(that is, the business or industry of grazing, animal feedlots, dairying, pig-farming, poultry farming, viticulture, orcharding, bee-keeping, horticulture, vegetable growing, the growing of crops of any kind, forestry or aquaculture within the meaning of the Fisheries Management Act 1994 , or any combination of those businesses or industries) which:

(a) has a significant and substantial commercial purpose or character, and

(b) is engaged in for the purpose of profit on a continuous or repetitive basis (whether or not a profit is actually made).

(2) Land is not to be categorised as farmland if it is rural residential land.

(3) The regulations may prescribe circumstances in which land is or is not to be categorised as farmland.

Photograph: Farmland in the shire is undergoing a rating review in line with requirements of the Local Government Act.
 

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