Greed for rates

2008-07-17 00:00

The Mpofana Municipality has gone overboard in its expectation of a massive increase in rates payments from commercial enterprises in Mooi River and Rosetta. This is shown by the declared likelihood of closure by a number of these enterprises in response to the municipality’s demands.

Mooi River faced the closure of its cotton factory some years ago with devastating consequences for the employees involved. This factory has opened again under new ownership alongside some other initiatives. It would be tragic if the current rates policy were to re-create the sense of a ghost town in the heart of the KwaZulu-Natal midlands.

All municipalities, not least those like Mpofana in rural areas, face daunting challenges in meeting many needs. The temptation is to fleece well-resourced elements in order to provide the money required. This becomes counter-productive when rates charges rise by 50%, let alone over 200% as one example indicates.

Resistance to such exorbitant increases is enhanced by a strong perception that the legally required consultation with the public, if it happens at all, is a mere formality because suggestions are not listened to. Moreover, service delivery is pitted with so much failure that ratepayers are left sceptical about the responsible usage of the taxes that they are required to pay.

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