Relief for ratepayers

2013-11-07 00:00

OVERBURDENED ratepayers in the eThekwini Municipality could get some relief when R8,6 billion is added to the rates base through planned investments arising from the Go Durban transport system.

The only catch is that the earliest this will happen is in 2027.

City manager Sbu Sithole delivered his presentation on the Integrated Rapid Transport System Transport Network (IRPTN) before the provincial cabinet and the city’s executive council yesterday. He said the city would generate the rates from investments totalling R507 billion.

The investments are made up of R328 billion in private sector projects, R143 billion in public sector projects and R36 billion in private-public partnerships.

A total of 57 “flagship” projects from the private sector would be undertaken in nine development nodes, Sithole said.

“If we are to maximise the flagship projects there would have to be water, trunk sewerage and electrification.

“This relates to various corridors and all these will give us that R8,6 billion if these projects are done,” said Sithole.

Municipal spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng said the investment would surely broaden the city rates base.

“The focus of the development is to broaden the rates base so that we don’t overburden the existing ratepayers,” he said.

“If we get more businesses to invest, the city will collect more money and there will be more room for further development.”

The news about the likely increase in broadening the rates base comes against the backdrop of reports that due to the city’s tax base, residents who currently are in a position to pay are bearing the brunt of rate increases.

According to the city’s 2013/2014 Integrated Development Plan, the city’s rates base is 11-13% of the population, and is not increasing.

Despite the city being optimistic about broadening its tax base, interest groups expressed mixed views.

Durban Chamber of Commerce chief executive Andrew Layman said communities would benefit immensely from the Bridge City project.

He said the project will be sustainable and that it will promote social cohesion.

“Even if there were no rates increase benefits, social benefits such as social cohesion are what communities need,” said Layman.

Lilian Develing of the Combined Ratepayers Association of Durban said she was sceptical about the city’s grand plans.

“You get promises all the time. It [planned investment] is a good idea,” Develing said, adding that the planned investments should translate to jobs and residents paying up for services.

“The majority of people who use services are not paying,” she added.

Isipingo Ratepayers Association chairperson Shan Nowbuth said the planned investments were good.

“All these developments by the city should not impact in ratepayers who are overburdened.”

He said the city should source funding from the private sector or national government so that ratepayers were not overburdened as there was a small percentage of paying ratepayers.

“The ratepayers are overburdened with high electricity, water and rates levied. Yes, we are happy there is investment. We want to see the economy grow. We would like to see development in the door of communities.”

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