Geoff Burbidge is used to tough times on the land and riding rural market fluctuations.
But he admits a 20 per cent rise in his property rates is hard to stomach on the back of drought and a hard hit economy.
Mr Burbidge and wife, Jenny, live on a 300-hectare property 5km north of Binda where they run fat lambs and grow wool.
Last year he said he paid $1856, or $464 a quarter in rates. His property sits in the farmland category.
This year it rose to $2307, or $576 a quarter, including $210 for rural waste. Mr Burbidge told The Post he was dismayed by the $451 hike.
"In normal times that might be okay but right now it's quite a big imposition on all farming industry," he said.
"Our costs are going up too and our income is down. We're used to that but at a time when the economy is at its worst in 100 years and governments are spending billions propping up business, I don't think Upper Lachlan Council should be increasing rates."
Mr Burbidge said this year his wool cheque was down 60 per cent and lamb prices - 33pc. While he understood that rates were driven by land values and sales, he argued the council should exercise some discretion in the way it applied the increase.
He branded the hike as outrageous, saying it was the highest in his six years on the property, and called on the council to urgently review the methodology.
"We can pay, but it's the principle," Mr Burbidge said.
"It's not something we want to pay given that our road is not great. It would be okay if there was also a 20pc increase in road spending."
The council's finance and administration director, Andrew Croke, said Mr Burbidge's unimproved land value rose 122pc on last year's. The median increase in the farmland category was 64pc.
"That's due to a number of factors. It may well have been because of more land sales in the area over the last three years."
The rates are based partly on valuations provided by the NSW Valuer General, undertaken every three years. The council applies an ad valorem and a farmland base rate, which was $490 in Mr Burbidge's case.
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Mr Croke said the council was aware some people would be heavily affected by land revaluations so it tried to "smooth out" the impact through an increase in the farmland base rate. But he acknowledged some rates had fallen while others had risen.
"We've had a spike in people querying how the land values are applied," he said.
"Where people feel it is not accurate, we encourage them to go to the Valuer General and lodge an objection."
Mr Croke said the council had no further discretion and would not be revisiting the matter. The rating structure was part of the operational plan, which councillors adopted in June.
Where people feel (the land valuation) is not accurate, we encourage them to go to the Valuer General and lodge an objection.Andrew Croke
Nevertheless, Upper Lachlan has introduced rate hardship provisions. These include a maximum repayment period of three years and waiving of interest on accrued rates until January 1, 2021.
But Mr Burbidge said this "smacked of hypocrisy" given that the increase still applied.
'A bigger issue'
NSW Farmers has campaigned for "fairer" application of the land valuation rises in rural rates.
In April, the body's business, economics and trade committee chair Peter Wilson wrote to Goulburn Mulwaree Council stating that members were already struggling with the impacts of drought, bushfires and COVID-19.
He asked that councils use either their rating sub-categories or increase the farmland base rate to address "inequities."
NSW Farmers is pushing for 70pc of rate income to be taken from the farmland base rate, rather than the permissable 50pc.
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