Federated Farmers says its new survey shows farmers are out of patience with councils that treat them as cash cows and less than 4 per cent believe they get good value for money from their rates.
"It's local government election year and those chasing our votes can expect some very pointy questions on why average council rates in New Zealand jumped 79.7 per cent between June 2007 and June 2017 when inflation (CPI) for the same period was only 23.1 per cent," said Federated Farmers President Katie Milne.
Last Tuesday, Federated Farmers launched a survey of its members to get a handle on farm rates in order to help inform its advocacy to the Productivity Commission's Inquiry into Local Government Funding and Financing.
Read more from Federated Farmers here.
"By Friday morning, we'd already had 647 responses, with 440 of them landing on the first day. I think that speaks volumes about the level of concern about council costs," said Milne.
"As an ironical nod to the fact many farmers' rates bills top $10,000, we said the first 200 respondents to our survey would get a 'Federated Farmers $10K Rates Mug'. These were exhausted barely three hours after the survey opened.
"The sad fact is, based on the rising costs, we're probably going to have to change to $20K Rates Mugs."
Of the 647 responses received so far:
• 544 provided Feds with an amount of rates they pay, with an average of $26,949 and median of $21,388.
• 46 pay less than $10,000.
• 199 pay between $10,000 and $20,000.
• 247 pay between $20,000 and $50,000
• 43 pay between $50,000 and $100,000
• 9 pay more than $100,000, with the highest amount $176,533
• Only 3.7 per cent of respondents agree that they get good value for money from their rates, with 96.3 per cent disagreeing
• 87 per cent of respondents consider roading to be the council activity mattering most to them. This was followed by planning and regulation (41.7 per cent), land drainage (23.6 per cent), water and wastewater (23.4 per cent) and governance (23 per cent).
"Federated Farmers recognises the cost pressures on councils and we've said before we're delighted that the Productivity Commission is now investigating how local authorities might fund infrastructure in the future, as well as looking into regulatory creep and cost-shifting by central government," said Milne.
"Bills calculated on the current antiquated system of capital or land value-based rates often have little or no relationship with what a family, a business or a farm actually uses by way of council services.
"And here's another message in this election year – we need people who have a sound understanding of rural and agricultural issues to stand, and get that perspective heard in council chambers."