Msunduzi rates: good news for more households

2008-04-01 00:00

The Msunduzi Municipality has proposed an increase to the value of properties eligible for a 100% rates rebate from R30 000 to R60 000.

This was announced at the tabling of the municipality’s draft operational budget at a full council sitting yesterday.

Discussing proposed rates increases, Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo noted that in most cities, business properties contribute more to rates revenue than residential properties.

This has not been the case in Pietermaritzburg, leading council to increase business rates by 12% this year, and residential rates by 10%. Last year’s increase was six percent, about the same as inflation at the time.

Chief financial officer Roy Bridgmohan said the draft rates increases are the minimum required to balance the rates and general services budget, allowing for an increase in the indigent exemption limits for both residential and vacant land based on the current valuation roll.

The municipality’s new valuation roll was fraught with problems, forcing the municipality to defer the implementation of the new market-based valuations until July 1, 2009 and extend the valuation objection deadline to April 30. The draft operating and capital budget for 2008/09 will be prepared according to the previous roll.

Municipal manager Rob Haswell said the municipality needs more time to analyse objections as the deadline was poorly timed on the same day as the draft budget deadline. "In order to convince the public that we have formulated a credible budget, we cannot use a valuation roll that has not been validated," he said.

DA councillor Mark Steele expressed concern that by extending the objection deadline, the municipality may be running the risk of having to redo the whole valuations process if it falls far behind schedule. "We need to have it on record that we will not fall far from deadline if the objection period is extended to one month."

Haswell assured councillors that the consultants hired by the municipality have been contracted for a further 12 months to complete the valuations process.

"We are seeking advice of the MEC for Local Government on the decision we have taken as council, but we are certain that we will not fall far behind deadline," he said.

The DA is seeking to postpone the new market value property valuations roll as it is fraught with problems, but DA caucus leader Bill Lambert said they are still grappling with the legality of this under the Municipal Property Rates Act.

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