An appeal to the Valuer-General has put an Aboriginal pastoral business back on track by overturning a nearly 400 per cent rise in their council rates.

In January, the Kimberley Agricultural and Pastoral Company (KAPCO) received their rate bill from the Shire of Derby/West Kimberley in the State’s north.

Myroodah, one of the four stations the not-for-­profit runs cattle on, received a bill of $230,000, a massive increase from last year’s $61,000.

KAPCO Chair Robert Watson says the bill pushed the business close to unviability.

Council rates are calculated by multiplying land values, set by the Valuer-General, by the local council’s rate in the dollar.

In minutes from a July 2020 meeting of the Shire Council, the Shire of Derby/West Kimberley said it was their intention to increase their rate yield by leveraging a large increase in the value of pastoral leases in the area.

An appeal to the Valuer-General’s officer has taken the initial 325 per cent increase in valuation down to a 104 per cent increase.

Watson says current result is now workable.

Shire President Geoff Haerewa was disappointed at the Valuer-General’s decision, and said it was the Valuer-General’s decision on land values, not the council’s decision on rates, that had put pressure on the pastoralists.

“All we did at the council was follow what the Valuer-General did. Now they’ve gone and done a backflip,” he said.

“I’m disappointed that they even went down this road in the first place. The Valuer-General should have should have done their due diligence prior to [setting the initial valuation].

“To do a backflip like this impacts on, not only our Shire, but every Shire around around the Northwest. And of course, ultimately, it’s the pastoralists that are impacted the most.”

Haerewa warned if the Valuer-General or the department does something similar in future, it would mean “there’s a lot of incompetence out there”.

“We the councils are the ones that have to bear the brunt of the mistakes that are made in the Valuer-General’s office.”

By Sarah Smit