The City of Playford has presented three rate options for consultation by the community. A council statement said the goal was to stimulate job creation in response to a decline in manufacturing and increased financial pressures.
Among the options being considered are no change to the rates policy or a freeze on rates for commercial businesses for the next five years.
The contentious option includes a rate reduction for 66 per cent of residential ratepayers, 91pc of commercial properties and 31pc of vacant land properties, with an increase in rates for certain primary producers.
The council states 6.9pc of primary production properties would receive a reduction, while 50pc would have no change or a small increase. It claims only 1pc of producers would have more significant rate increases.
Ausveg SA state manager Jordan Brooke-Barnett said the proposal would double or, in some cases, triple the rates paid by these producers.
He said the drive to increase commercial interest in the City of Playford should not come “off the back of primary producers”. Instead he urged the council to consider other financial efficiencies, rather than penalise an important industry.
Mr Brooke-Barnett pointed to an announcement last week by the state government to invest in a $156-million water infrastructure project in northern Adelaide that could potentially create 3700 jobs for the region.
“Horticulture is a really significant industry that is poised to provide significant jobs,” he said. “This is an irresponsible proposal that is hanging above the industry.”
He said the region’s horticultural producers were already facing increased financial pressure with the lift in electricity prices.
“Given the cost of production, we want to keep council rates where they are,” he said.
Other grower group representatives have expressed objections to the proposal.
HortEx executive officer Bryan Robertson said as manufacturing wound down, horticulture was already being “expected to do a lot of heavy lifting” and could not “afford to wear such a heavy rate increase”.
“Horticulture is a potential saviour for Adelaide’s north, it is critical growers are supported with competitive council rates, water, electricity and infrastructure,” he said.
Potatoes SA chief executive Robbie Davis said the proposal would hurt smaller and larger growers alike.
A public hearing will be held at the Council Chamber, Elizabeth, on May 23.
City of Playford mayor Glenn Docherty was contacted for comment but did not respond by deadline.
- Details: Submissions on the changes can be made at playford.sa.gov.au