Eleven rates valuation appeal boards set up to hear KZN ratepayers’ challenges

2010-02-05 00:00

THE long-awaited rates valuation appeal boards have finally been established throughout KwaZulu-Natal, the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomsa Dube, announced yesterday.

Dube acknowledged the urgent need for the boards. She said the implementation of the Municipal Property Rates Act in most municipalities has been marred by controversy as many ratepayers believe that their properties are overvalued.

This has resulted in public protests, calls for boycotts of the payment of rates and in some cases municipalities cutting off services to ratepayers.

She said the delays are due to factors not always in municipalities’ control. Some board members resigned shortly after being appointed because they felt the remuneration rates were too low.

Dube said that despite advertising widely for nominations, very few were received. The department also struggled to ensure the boards are adequately representative of communities. The Act requires a chairman with a legal background and at least two members with knowledge of the valuation process, one being a professional valuer. The MEC added that some mayors and municipal managers have taken far too long to endorse or comment on the appointees as required by the Act.

Eleven boards have been appointed. One will sit in the Ethekwini Metro and the other 10 in the district municipalities of KZN. The chairman of the Umgungundlovu District Rates Appeal Board, which will hear cases from Msunduzi Municipality, is city lawyer Aubrey Ngcobo. He is a partner with Ngcobo, Poyo and Diedricks Inc.

Ngcobo said yesterday he is eager to get started, but there are procedural steps that have to be clarified. He is certain this will be sorted out at a workshop the department will be holding for board members within the next two weeks. The board will then be able to get on with hearing and deciding on appeals against decisions of municipal property valuers.

Other members of the Umgungundlovu appeals board supplied by the KZN Department of Co-operative Governance are: Sandra Dyer, who is an estate agent; Peter Naude, a professional land surveyor; Sushila Narshai; Ms S. Pillay and Mr Pillay.

As for the payment of rates in rural areas, Dube said her department has issued guidelines to municipalities for the valuation and rating of rural communal land.

Rural communities will be granted relief from paying rates through exemptions. However, municipalities will be encouraged to rate those using communal land in the rural areas for private profit.

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