Crash adds to rates pain

Police responded to a Rockhampton accident at 3.38pm on Wednesday 16 January at the corner of Moores Creek and Yamba roads. Picture by Kent Murray.

In an attempt to pay off their crippling rural rates, a family from Taranga, Mackay, sent two decks of cattle to the CQLX Gracemere Saleyards when things took an unexpected turn for the worse.

Third-generation cattle and cane farmers David and Peta Jeppesen sent their steers to the weekly CQLX Prime and Store sale when the supplied cattle truck drifted while turning on a major arterial Rockhampton Road, causing the trailer door to unlatch and two cattle to escape.

Police responded to the accident at 3.38pm on Wednesday 16 January at the corner of Moores Creek and Yamba roads.

Although the couple was devastated, Peta said the situation could have been much worse.

“The prices for the sale were good but because of the accident, we were unable to sell them for that week,” she said.

“We ended up selling them in the sale the next week and we received below-average sales.

“The first lot sold well, but then I think someone must have connected the dots and realised they were in the accident, although none of them were injured.”

Luckily, David and Peta didn’t lose any of their steers in the incident and Peta said they were all in good condition.

“We hope buyers do well with the steers they purchased,” she said.

“The truck company acknowledged what had happened and because of the circumstances, they paid for our freight.

“The only reason we were sending our cattle down there was so we could pay our council rates.”

Peta said the council rates had recently caused them and others a lot of stress in the area.

“We know several farmers who are having this same problem and can’t even get conversations with other Queensland councils,” she said.

Mackay council’s chief executive officer Scott Owen said almost 60 per cent of properties in the cane farming category had received an overall reduction in rates.

“The council has reduced the cents in the dollar for cane growing categories by 20 per cent following the significant increases to land valuations by the State Government,” Mr Owen said.

“Last year, the rate was 2.78 (cents in the dollar) and this year it is 2.25.

“The council has encouraged all residents that experienced such significant land valuation increases to raise objections with the state, as this is out of council’s control.”

David and Peta have attended preliminary conferences with the Land Court and discussed their land valuation.

“The Land Court indicated that we need to have a conversation with the Mackay council about the cost of rates,” Peta said.

“This is hurting the agricultural industry.”

The State Valuation Services assessed the Jeppesen’s property at $4.9 million.

With a council discount of $3.425m and a multiplier rate of 0.011211, the net value rating was $19,449.37.

“Following negotiations, we successfully adjusted the valuation to $4.2m and received a council discount of $3.075m while maintaining the multiplier rate at 0.011211,” Peta said.

“This adjustment meant the current payment for the next six months was $17,669.47 and altogether, over the next 12 months we will have paid $37,118.84.

“If we had accepted the initial valuation without contesting and paid the council without their discount, our rates would have been based on the $4.9m valuation, resulting in a payment of $54,933.90.”

The Jeppesens accept that the council’s 20 per cent discount could be lifted at any time.

“We are still in negotiations on this matter,” Peta said.

“I am just so frustrated because we pay for the rates and receive minimal service from the local council in our area.

“We are finding it difficult to maintain a sustainable lifestyle.

“Instead of expanding our operation, we are having to cut back on expenses to continue paying our rates and other bills.

“We would love to see the council find better ways to reconcile their budget.”