Chaos at city civic centres

2014-04-30 00:00

LONG queues exacerbated by a lack of official stamps were the order of the day at civic centres and municipal offices around the city as residents rushed to lodge last-minute objections to their property valuations.

With yesterday being D-Day for objections to be handed in, many disgruntled residents in the queues were angry that they were not afforded more time. At the Northdale Civic Centre, objectors were angry when they were told they could not hand in objections and were turned away because an official stamp was not available.

A provincial government official who went to hand in his objection was angry at this attitude. He said that pensioners had walked to the civic centre and then had to find transport to go to the other centres.

“I asked these officials where was their ‘batho pele or people first’ courtesy. The one guy was just telling the complainants to go the the municipal manager, making no effort to help,” the official said. He added that there was a totally different attitude a the Truro Library — the other spot that objection forms could be handed in. Staff there also had no stamp, but found a way to give people acknowledgement that they had handed in objections.

There was anxiety among those at the back of the queue over whether they would get in before the offices closed. While the doors closed on objections for residential properties yesterday, businesses were offered a reprieve.

Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Melanie Veness said a number of businesses had contacted her to advise that they had been unable to secure an appointment with commercial and industrial agents to get valuations of their properties. This was because there are only a few such agents in Pietermaritzburg undertaking this work.

“Unfortunately, because the rates valuation process informs the budget, the municipality is unable to extend the date for submissions, but I have managed to make the following arrangement to try and assist you,” Veness told businesses. She said that while all objection forms had to be handed in yesterday, arrangements could be made with the municipality to submit further supporting documents by the close of business today. “If you need to do this, please make sure that you submit both your form and supporting documents to Ms Gail Ball (and nobody else), otherwise it will be difficult to get the supporting documents attached to the original objection. Ms Ball will be at the municipal offices between 10 am and 5 pm today. This arrangement applies to commercial property valuations only,” Veness said.

Msuduzi spokesperson Madeleine Jackson-Plaatjies said that issues regarding long queues had been reported by two staff who had had to devise a contingency plan with the skeleton staff on hand.

Just after 6 pm yesterday, the municipality reported that staff were attending to the last four objectors. “From our understanding, each and every objector was attended to,” she said, reiterating that there would be no extension for objections.

“Any material issues that arise from the objection process will be dealt with through the supplementary roll,” Jackson-Plaatjies said.

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