Roll fightback growing

2019-08-28 15:00
City Hallâ??s Clock tower keeps ticking. The Msunduzi municipality has managed to keep ahead of the problem the pigeons keep dropping. Photo. Jonathan Burton8BIM

City Hallâ??s Clock tower keeps ticking. The Msunduzi municipality has managed to keep ahead of the problem the pigeons keep dropping. Photo. Jonathan Burton8BIM (File)

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An online petition against the implementation of the City’s “flawed” general valuation is gaining momentum as hundreds of ratepayers dispute the new values of their properties.

Msunduzi’s new roll — which lists 85 660 properties with a total value of more than R82 billion — came into effect last month and attracted more than 4 000 objections from ratepayers.

A few weeks ago the City decided to go ahead and open the first supplementary roll for public inspection before finalising the ratepayers’ objections against the general valuation roll.

It said the objections were being attended to in batches and the process was expected to be completed in December.

The Witness recently reported on property owners’ frustration over how Msunduzi has handled the valuation process and the negative financial impact this had on them.

Co-ordinator for the campaign against the implementation of the new roll, Anthony Waldhausen, said the petition arose from a resolution at last week’s community meeting in Scottsville. He said the ratepayers’ concerns were on how the latest valuation of their properties increased dramatically — in some cases by 50% or more — since the last evaluation in 2014.

“Serious flaws in the property valuation process and methodology used in compiling the new valuation roll have been identified which, in a very large measure, resulted in grossly inflated property values.

“The methodology used has been described as a desktop and aerial viewing exercise with minimal physical inspection of properties on the ground actually having taken place,” he said.

Waldhausen said the petition would be presented to the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sipho Hlomuka, requesting his urgent intervention in terms of the Municipal Property Rates Act (MPRA) and to make Msunduzi extend its general valuation roll for 2014-2017 and supplementary roll for 2018-2019 for a further year from July 1, 2019.

He said they wanted the objections to be finalised before the new roll was implemented as property values determined how much should be paid in rates. Following completion of the municipal valuer’s review of objections, Waldhausen said ratepayers needed to be notified of the outcomes and had the right to request reasons from the municipal manager for each decision reached.

“If unhappy about the outcomes, affected ratepayers have the right of appeal to a valuation appeal board. These processes will take the better part of the current financial year to be fully implemented.”

He said ratepayers whose values were adjusted by more than 10% also had an automatic right of review and referral to the municipal manager and valuation appeal board as described in the MPRA.

Waldhausen said there had also been numerous reports of ratepayers not receiving section 49 notices, and there were no visible notices of the revaluation as contemplated MPRA, thereby depriving them of the right of objection.

Those who did receive section 49 notices also had not received acknowledgement from the municipality and its service provider. “Instead, the acting City manager [Nelisiwe Ngcobo] has posted a general public notice in the local media advising that the objections will be processed in monthly batches until, and including, December 2019. That is halfway through the municipal finance year.”

Waldhausen said many ratepayers had suffered erroneous accounts over a prolonged period due to the incapacity of finance staff to work with the SAP financial system effectively and efficiently. Therefore they did not believe the City administration had the capacity to manage the review, objection and refund processes competently or timeously, so they were asking for an extension of the old roll.

The online petition on the “Awethu Amandla” website has reached 1 000 online signatories already and Waldhausen said reception showed that Msunduzi residents were unhappy about the flawed process and would continue to submit their objections to the municipality.

“A hard copy of the petition was also developed to maximise residents’ participation and has been circulated around shops. This approach also assisted those who do not have access to the Internet or who are not tech savvy to also get involved.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  msunduzi municipality

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