Rates: payers cannot appeal

2014-08-19 00:00

MSUNDUZI rates objectors have been dealt a triple blow.

Ratepayers who contacted The Witness are devastated that their objections were rejected. Their property values had more than doubled since the last valuation process.

City lawyer Farouk Jasat is representing a client whose valuation went up from R2,2 million in the last valuation to R7,5 million currently.

Jasat called this “highway robbery”. He said he has put in 11 objections on behalf of clients in similar positions.

To add insult to injury, the objectors were not given reasons why their objections were rejected. This despite preparing lengthy motivations giving reasons for their objections.

The third blow is that they cannot appeal as the Msunduzi Rates Appeal Board is yet to be appointed. The beleaguered objectors don’t know how long they will have to continue to pay the more expensive rates.

The municipality said it is not giving reasons up front because it is complying with the Property Rates Act.

Msunduzi’s property valuator, Chazile Ndlovu, quoted Section 53 (2) of the act that says that a ratepayer — within 30 days of receiving notification of the outcome of the objection — may, in writing, apply to the municipal manager for the reasons for the decision.

A prescribed fee must accompany the application. The fee at Msunduzi is R78 (excluding VAT).

However, what is irking ratepayers is the uncertainty over the appeal process.

Ratepayer Kathy Arbuckle, whose valuation went up by R600 000, summed up the frustration of many of the ratepayers.

“Basically, the value of our property almost doubled in the new assessment. We just cannot absorb this extra amount every month. It is made worse by me knowing the assessed value of the property is completely wrong,” she said.

Arbuckle did her research, which included recent selling prices of similar properties in the area, comparison with the municipal valuations of neighbouring properties, an estate agent’s valuation and the current condition of her property. What upset her even more was that after she objected, no site visit was conducted on her property.

Arbuckle was annoyed to hear that they would have to wait for the appeal process. “We will have to pay the inflated rates until then. I just can’t do this. I feel desperate and very angry.”

KwaZulu-Natal Co-operative Governance spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said the process of appointing the Msunduzi Rates Appeal Board was under way. He said nominees for the Msunduzi board have gone past the mayor’s approval and are now subject to the MEC’s final review.

He said the five existing Rates Appeals Boards can hear appeals from municipalities that don’t have boards as yet. “This means that no appeal from any ratepayer in KZN, regardless, will go unattended.”

• nalini@witness.co.za

THE valuer for Msunduzi’s general valuation project, Martin Fitchet, said more values were reduced after the objection process than those that stayed the same.

According to Fitchet, a total of 3 306 objections were received out of 80 217 properties in the valuation roll, which became effective on July 1, 2014.

• 900 values remain the same;

• 2 364 values are reduced; and

• 42 values are raised.

Fitchet added that the valuations and value reviews relied on market information to hand prior to and just after the date of valuation.

This included an analysis of recorded sales transactions together with estate agent opinion and listings data. He said the processing of objections had taken two and a half months to complete, approximately two weeks ahead of schedule.

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