Council court fight

2009-10-02 00:00

DESPITE legal advice to the contrary, the Msunduzi Municipality still refuses to settle an outstanding amount owed to the valuation roll contractor and will instead battle it in court.

When the issue came up in Wednesday’s full council meeting, council speaker Alpha Shelembe refused to discuss it.

He then voiced his displeasure over the item’s inclusion, saying it is a confidential item that should have been distributed under separate cover so that the media and public would not have access to it.

However, The Witness did report on the matter when it was initially raised in an executive committee (Exco) meeting. Thereafter, it was deemed confidential and discussed in private.

According to the latest report, municipal legal advisors are still recommending that the municipality, which has already forked out R24 million, should pay the contractor an outstanding debt of approximately R1 million for the valuations.

Exco is not in agreement as committee members feel the contractor did a shoddy job of the valuations. The report states that ratepayers’ associations want to meet council to air their dissatisfaction over the property valuation process.

The report states, “[ANC] Councillor [Pops] Chetty suggested that a fact-finding meeting be convened with all affected property owners, which would form part of the defence. He added that thousands of property owners wanted to march to the City Hall to voice their dissatisfaction about the valuation roll compiled by [the contractor], but councillors had worked hard to calm the angry residents.”

Chetty goes on to say that the acting process manager for income pointed out the shortcomings in the 2009/10 valuation roll and that because of this, the income unit is having difficulties in processing rates accurately.

Despite the discrepancies, municipal legal advisors said the outstanding amount should be paid out as the irregularities could still be rectified via the compilation of a supplementary valuation roll.

Exco disagreed and made the following recommendations to full council:

• That the legal recommendations not be approved.

• That the municipality defend the application in court.

• That municipal manager Rob Haswell be given the authority to instruct attorneys and brief counsel regarding the action.

• That Haswell be given the right to sign affidavits or any other documentation necessary in defending the action.

• That deputy municipal manager for finance Roy Bridgmohan record and submit issues that will sustain their defence regarding the claim and submit them to a special Exco sitting so they can be discussed before being approved.

• That any Exco members who also want to supplement Bridgmohan’s issues do so at the special Exco meeting.




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