Values: Exco has concerns

2008-03-07 00:00

MEMBERS of the Msunduzi council’s executive committee (Exco) voiced their dissatisfaction with the way property rates valuations, especially in the northern suburbs, were done, in a meeting yesterday with the consultants hired to do the job.

Valuations consultant Martin Fitchet visited council to give Exco a status report on the valuations and attempted to allay the anxiety of ratepayers about the process.

Fitchet said that by the end of the second week of the objection period, only 37 valid objections have been received. The report revealed there are more records of properties being undervalued than overvalued, with 2 400 undervaluations and 1 700 overvaluations.

There have been 9 651 registered visitors to the municipality’s website and 17 826 hits recorded by unregistered visitors seeking information regarding the valuation process.

When asked what percentage of the valuations are correct, Fitchet said that he is happy with the overall outcome of the valuation roll, but unhappy about the problems surfacing in the northern areas.

“We are aware that rates have not been accurately calculated in certain areas, especially the city’s north-eastern suburbs. This is not a perfect process.

“To ensure that this trend does not continue, we have noted that 30% of the valuations will have to be done manually and should be completed by March 24.

“Over 80% of the residential roll has integrity,” said Fitchet.

Councillors said they have received numerous complaints from the public saying that the rates objection forms are not user-friendly.

“Ordinary members of the community can’t fill in this form. It is difficult to comprehend — perhaps this is why we have not received too many objections,” said African National Congress councillor Pops Chetty.

He asked that council provide a simpler form.

Strategic executive manager for infrastructure services and facilities, Nontobeko Matobako, said officials will look into this, and get data collectors to assist residents with filling them in.

Councillors also questioned the methodology and experience of data collectors used for the whole process. Fitchet assured them that all data collectors had identification and were adequately screened and trained.

“We need accurate, independent information in order to get residents to trust the figures we as council give them and be able to justify the rates we are going to charge them,” said councillor Mark Steele.

He asked how objections about omissions of properties from the valuation roll will be handled, as he is aware of ratepayers who were recorded on previous valuation rolls, but omitted from the current one.

Fitchet assured council that the 1 700 properties omitted from the valuation roll will be included at the end of March on the supplementary roll.

Fitchet said that about 4 000 objections are expected by the end of the objection period.

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