Farmers may be able to defer rates during drought

FARMERS may get a temporary reprieve from the cost of council rates while the Fraser Coast is drought-declared, but it won't happen for several months.

Fraser Coast councillors voted on Wednesday to discuss deferring rates payments for farmers when preparing the 2014-15 Budget and revenue statement.

Councillor James Hansen, who holds the primary production portfolio, raised the motion in confidential business in yesterday's council meeting.

He said the Fraser Coast should follow the lead of Gympie Regional Council in deferring rates.

However, it could not extend payment cycles now because rates notices here were annual, rather than biannual as in Gympie.

"To be able to offer drought-affected farmers the ability to defer rates payments beyond the due dates, council would have to develop hardship provisions for farmers that can be included in the Revenue Policy which will be adopted as part of the budget in June," he said.

"I look forward to discussing this as part of the budget discussions in the coming weeks."

Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell said he would meet with farmers around Brooweena in the coming weeks.

He said the council considered long-term help for drought-affected farmers better than short-term relief such as delayed rates payments.



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