Dubbo Regional Council unable to cut farmers' rates in drought due to Local Government Act

To provide rate cuts for Dubbo farmers, Dubbo Regional Council would need the Local Government Act to be changed.
To provide rate cuts for Dubbo farmers, Dubbo Regional Council would need the Local Government Act to be changed.

Dubbo Regional Council will not cut rates for farmers in the region.

In September, councillor Dayne Gumley called on council to investigate ways to assist ratepayers who lived on farmland. Cr Gumley wanted to give some relief to the farmers during the drought.

However, under the Local Government Act 1993, council is not permitted to provide a rate reduction or rate rebate to any ratepayers.

To waive, write off or reduce the rates for a category of ratepayers, council would be required to amend the act.

The only option would be for council to provide assistance through donations to the farmland ratepayers. To donate the equivalent of one rate installment for each ratepayer would cost about $1.5 million.

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Councillor Dayne Gumley said he was disappointed more couldn’t be done.

“It’s disappointing council is effectively hamstrung by the statute as it exists at the moment and council is not able to provide assistance in a way that I thought would be beneficial to those people who are struggling in the drought at the moment,” Cr Gumley said.

“But in any event I’ll go back to the drawing board and think of something else.”

Ratepayers experiencing financial hardship have the option of getting assistance under council’s hardship policy.