Rates battle looms at uMngeni

2011-03-21 00:00

A SECOND rates battle looms at uMngeni Municipality as freehold residential ratepayers prepare to face a shocking average rates increase of 46% — over 12 times the inflation rate. Research on sectional title properties has not yet been completed.

Ratepayer and residents’ associations are set to meet this week to discuss what they see as a flawed valuation roll and an unchanged rates randage of 1,22 cents in the rand proposed by the municipality’s new budget, despite the valuation roll having doubled in value.

The current proposed rates randage, when applied to the latest values, will result in increases that led to a rates protest when the Property Rates Act was first implemented in the municipality four years ago.

DA councillor Tim Lindsay-White, who has been at the forefront of trying to sort out valuation problems at uMngeni, has been locked in a war of words in the town’s newspaper, Village Talk, with E-valuations — the contractor appointed by the municipality to sort out the valuation roll.

Lindsay-White said the company ignored all transfer of ownership changes over the past four years; over 1 500 submissions and queries provided to the valuation committee that was specifically formed to attend to the problems; and three supplementary valuation rolls that incorporated previous objections. The corrected supplementary rolls had bumped up the cash-strapped municipality’s revenue with an additional R7 million in rates income.

He said the company is expecting ratepayers to raise the same objections and queries they believed had been effectively dealt with in the supplementary rolls and submissions. The net effect, he claims, was that E-Valuations stands to gain from every objection raised. He said the company’s contract with the municipality states that it will get paid R570 for agricultural, commercial and industrial objections and R228 for every residential objection, irrespective if it is just the correction of a name.

Lindsay-White questioned the valuator credentials of E-valuations, as none of the directors are listed as professional valuers. He noted that E-Valuations was also accused a few years back of preparing a flawed valuation roll in Durban. He has prepared several detailed reports that highlight flaws in the valuation process conducted by E-Valuations. Lindsay-White was assisted in his endeavours by members from the residents’ associations and experts in the property field. The municipality had indicated that it had withdrawn the roll and there was a notice to this effect in the Village Talk on March 2.

Responding to Lindsay-White, E-Valuations spokesperson Siven Dorasamy has however denied that the valuation roll was flawed or that it was recalled or that they would get money for objections. Dorasamy accused Lindsay-White of using the rates issue to lobby for votes.

The DA says the situation is serious enough to warrant immediate intervention by the KZN departments of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) as well as Finance. The DA called on these provincial MECs to look at both E-valuations’ alleged flawed valuations process and the rates randage being imposed on ratepayers and see for themselves the burdens imposed on ratepayers.

 

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