Canegrowers Mackay calls for rates freeze
CANEGROWERS Mackay has written to all councillors on the Mackay Regional Council seeking a year’s rates freeze at 2019 values for sugarcane growers following recent land valuation increases.
Chairman Kevin Borg said the organisation objected to the increases, which range from 47 per cent to 200 per cent, based on a number of important points which had been taken up with the Valuer General.
“There has been a fundamental misunderstanding of our industry’s operations by the government valuers,” Mr Borg said.
He said, for example, there was no evidence of genuine sales to suggest or support a significant increase in cane farm values from 2016-2019.
“In fact, terms of trade within the sugar industry have declined in that time,” Mr Borg said.
“Much of the increase has been made to smaller blocks which the Valuer General has classified as lifestyle blocks or hobby farms.”
But he said the blocks were important parcels of cane production and that the land was supposed to be valued on an unimproved basis, in their original, natural and undisturbed condition.
There was also a spike in sugar prices at the time the Valuer General was making these calculations, he said.
Mr Borg said another assumption by the Valuer General was that the Nordzucker purchase of Mackay Sugar would have a positive effect on the industry’s value, which was speculation.
He added he believed the recent erroneous calculations would be the basis for rate increases.
However, Mackay Regional Council CEO Craig Doyle said valuations were set by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, not council.
He said any property owner had the ability to lodge an objection with the State Government department when they received their latest valuation notices.
Mr Doyle said council’s data showed that of 1410 rateable properties in the cane farming category, 59 had increased by more than 200 per cent.
He said, of those, the highest increase in land valuation was $69,500, with the majority of large percentage increases relating to smaller properties.