ARARAT - Ararat Rural City Council has urged the farming community to apply to Council before September 30 for permission to pay their rates in a lump sum in February.
Council introduced a direct debit system to allow ratepayers to spread the cost of their rates over an entire year, abolishing the February lump sum payment option as a result.
CEO Andrew Evans said when council moved to the direct debit system, the option for lump sum payment disappeared, however, he said concerns raised by farmers had prompted Council to offer the lump sum option this year.
"People need to apply to us, outlining their reason for requesting lump sum payment, before the end of September, just send a quick email or letter," he said.
"They can then pay their rates in full by the date in February.
"We will allow it this year and see how many apply."
While the option is aimed at farmers, anyone is welcome to apply for permission to pay their rates by lump sum.
The decision by council to allow the community to apply for consideration over the payment of their rates comes as a result of consultation council conducted and the growing number of rural ratepayers including members of The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) who have expressed their conerns about the changes.
VFF representative Bruce McKay urged rural ratepayers to make their feelings known about the changes to the payment of rates to Council by September 30.
Mr McKay said the strategy adopted in June no longer allowed for the lump sum payment of rates in February each year disadvantaging rural ratepayers, particuarly farmers.
"The Rural City of Ararat has been at it again making it harder for the ratepayers with no consultation or communication," he said.
"They have made it that the paying of rates be paid in instalments this means they'll be collecting their funds three months earlier than they have in the past.
"This has added another rate increase of about 1.75 percent taking the total rural rate increase to about 16 percent.
"Most rural ratepayers budget for paying rates on the due date of February 15 and most farmers' income comes in after the new year in the January/February period from grain and prime lamb sales."
Council has extended the direct debits system to include nine monthly payments or 18 fortnightly payments, allowing ratepayers to spread the cost of rates over the year.
"Farmers are urged to write to or email the rural city before September 30 to apply for consideration of rate payment in full as in past years on February 15, as this may help their cash flow," Mr McKay said.
"For more information contact VFF representatives Bruce McKay, Noel Barr or Charlie DeFegely."
Council introduced the fortnightly or monthly payment option, because it found for many ratepayers 100 per cent of their rates is too much to cope with at one time.
The direct debit options will allow ratepayers to also spread the cost of their rates from September to May each year.
The two options as outlined by council are:
Direct debit: Ratepayers can elect to pay their rates and charges by direct debit payments over nine months or 18 fortnightly payments interest free, commencing on the last Friday of September, ending in May each year.
Instalments: Ratepayers who do not elect to pay by direct debit must pay their rates and charges by four equal instalments on the following dates: September 30, 2013, December 2, 2013, February 28, 2014, June 2, 2014.