Tarr answers petition inquiries

2011-01-05 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality Mayor Mike Tarr has responded to the concerns raised by the Msunduzi Rates Forum (MRF) in a petition during its protest on December 13.

The MRF wanted an explanation about the flawed valuation roll, action on ineffective service delivery and immediate action against suspended managers and councillors implicated in wrongdoing, among other things.

Tarr gave responses to each of the nine items raised in the MRF’s petition.

The MRF petition:

•Item one: An explanation as to why the turnaround strategy implemented by the administrator has failed and what is to be done in this regard.

•Mike Tarr (MT): The turnaround strategy is a three-year process and available to anyone who is interested on our website … Perhaps I should point out that the turnaround strategy has already resulted in a positive cash-flow situation.

•Item two: That an impartial mediator be appointed by the Msunduzi Municipality in consultation with government and the MRF to investigate the process followed in the awarding of the tender for the compilation of the Msunduzi Valuation Roll to C.B.R. Ellis and Company

•MT: All contracts are presently part of forensic investigations run by external forensic investigators. Should any irregularities emerge they will be dealt with in terms of the law.

•Item three: To deal with the grave and serious flaws which exist in the Msunduzi Municipal Valuation Roll (for example):

a) The over-valuation of properties.

b) The under-valuation of properties.

c) Omissions on the valuation roll.

•MT: The valuation roll as submitted by the company concerned was checked internally by three individuals who reported directly to the intervention team. Any variations were dealt with in the supplementary valuation roll. This roll has now been appraised by the province and complies with every aspect of the law. The Municipal Property Rates Act allows any person to appeal against a valuation.

•Item four: That an undertaking be given to act immediately and decisively against officials and councillors implicated in wrongdoings at the Msunduzi Municipality offices, whether by omission or commission.

•MT: The administrator, through various investigations — forensic and others — is acting in accordance with the laws provided for.

•Item five: To address the continuous failure to effect satisfactory service delivery in all spheres under municipal control.

•MT: The council and the administration are addressing service delivery backlogs and service delivery issues are addressed when funds are available. It must be stated that 25% of Msunduzi ratepayers are not paying their accounts, which is currently hampering service delivery.

Responding to the MRF’s petition item six, in which the forum demanded an acceptable indigent policy that is fair and equitably implemented, Tarr said: “To start with, our indigent policy provides for more than the law requires. Anybody qualifies to be indigent if they install a 20-amp circuit breaker and thereafter they are entitled to 200 kwh free, which exceeds the national norm of 50 kw per month. The previous policy got totally out of hand where indigent individuals were running up huge accounts …”

•Item seven: That the Msunduzi Municipality immediately refrains from implementing its policy of terminating electricity and water supplies to public educational institutions.

•MT: The credit control policy of the municipality makes provision for fair and transparent processes and does not allow preferential treatment for groups and categories of people which will be unfair.

•Item eight: That an undertaking be given to act immediately and decisively with regards to complaints/concerns and feelings of victimization expressed by aggrieved residents, the indigent and others which are experienced during their interaction (either telephonically or in person) with council employees.

•MT: Aggrieved residents should report any matters to the municipal manager who will deal with them decisively.

•Item nine: An undertaking to be given that all senior staff will have their qualifications audited and undergo competency assessments and those not meeting the criteria to be replaced immediately.

•MT: Recruitment and placement processes are in place that comply fully with applicable human resource legislation. Once the new staff structure has been approved by council it will be filled in accordance with council policy.

Tarr invited the MRF to executive committee meetings held weekly and full council meetings held monthly.

With regard to the MRF’s intention to deposit all rates into a trust fund, Tarr said that would be illegal and advised the MRF not to follow that route.

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