Comment: Get informed about how you are rated and where your rates are going, writes Federated Farmers Senior Policy Advisor Rhea Dasent.

Since 2008, my family farm has paid a total of $56,375 to the Hastings District Council.

Our rates just get bigger every year. In 2018 our bill was $169 more expensive than it was in 2017. It is $387 more expensive than it was in 2016.

The general rate is the main culprit.

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You would think that a dropping uniform annual general charge (UAGC) might make us happier, but it doesn't.

Last year the Hastings UAGC was charged at $236 per rateable property, and this year it is dropping down to $209.

The total amount collected via this rating mechanism is also dropping.

Read more from Federated Farmers here.

Last year it collected $6,507,046 and this year it is dropping to $6,066,554.

This is a 6.8 per cent reduction.

Now it might seem unusual for Federated Farmers to advocate to pay a higher rate!

However, the reason for this is because better use of a UAGC means less reliance on the general rate, which is the expensive one for farmers.

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Uniform charges are best used when every ratepayer receives an equal benefit from their council service, and there is no link between a ratepayer's property value and the service provided. Not a single link.

To pick one, Administration Buildings will be receiving $345,534 from the general rate in 2019-20, yet this will be an activity that all ratepayers benefit from equally.

There is no link between a ratepayer's land value, be it high or low, and whether they receive high or low benefit from council administration of buildings.

On the other side of the coin, every ratepayer gets equal benefit from council leadership and democracy, which is why Federated Farmers is pleased that this is funded through the UAGC.

Farmers with high property value do not get more representation by councillors than lower value properties, so it would make no sense that they would pay more.

Instead, democracy is something in which everyone receives equal benefit, so we should pay equal rates towards it.

This is a local council election year.

Get informed about how you are rated and where your rates are going. Ask yourself – is this fair?

Am I actually getting what I'm told I'm getting and is it worth it?

As they say – if it doesn't bring you joy throw it out.