Valuation roll ‘flawed’

2019-09-05 15:44
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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We admit it.

The valuation roll is flawed.

Msunduzi Municipality on Wednesday acknowledged that its new general valuation roll was flawed, saying it had also lodged an objection against it.

“We agree, the values have a problem,” said acting city manager Neli Ngcobo.

“We have requested internal audit to audit the entire process. We are not relaxing. We are making all the necessary processes to make sure that the general valuation roll is correct.”

She said the municipality has also delayed the final payment of the service provider until all processes have been finalised.

“We want them to be accountable in terms of the process,” she said.

This emerged during full council yesterday after councillors from the opposition benches called for the administration to ask the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC to revert back to the 2014 to 2017 general valuation roll.

Msunduzi appointed a Durban company, eValuations, to prepare the general valuation roll that came into effect at the beginning of the 2019/2020 financial year last month and should be in place until June 2024.

The opposition objected to a recommendation for Msunduzi to submit a status report on the progress and implementation of the general valuation roll project to the provincial Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. The report was later withdrawn.

Ngcobo said residents who had pending objections must pay the 2018/19 rates plus 10% but this written arrangement must be made with the City’s credit control unit, which is at the A.S. Chetty Building on Church Street.

She said this will help the ratepayers to not be disconnected.

“We requested quite a number of extensions to try and accommodate everyone. ... Councillors themselves had that responsibility of relaying what we were communicating to the residents.”

The Witness previously reported that more than 4 000 ratepayers have challenged the City’s new general valuation roll. Some properties had apparently gone up by more than 60% since the release of the last valuation roll five years ago.

The Democratic Alliance’s Ross Strachan said the methodology used, which he described as a “desktop viewing exercise” had minimal physical inspection of properties on the ground.

“We are unhappy with the recommendations that the report be submitted to the MEC as we believe that the entire process has been flawed.

“We would like this entire roll to go back to 2014 and be redone with proper procedures in terms of public participation. It shouldn’t be just a desktop exercise,” Strachan said.

“Physical evaluations need to be done. There are some major issues here and the residents have been strong-armed into paying rates, which they could be paying until January next year,” he said.

The DA’s Vic Winterbach said: “This process is suspect. Our ratepayers are being seriously disadvantaged with the latest evaluations roll. Their services are being cut off because they cannot meet the payments. Many are pensioners and they are unemployed. The impact is devastating. They cannot afford to pay.”

The ACDP’s Reinus Niemand said the massive differences in the valuation roll needed to be reassessed.

“Let’s analyse it and then if needs be, let’s do a supplementary roll,” he said.

While a call was made for the 2014-2017 roll to be reinstated, administrator Sibusiso Sithole said council would have to take into consideration the legalities.

“As far as I understand, the evaluation roll is already effective from July 1 and the current 2019/2020 budget has been compiled based on that evaluation roll.

“Any decision that is advanced here must consider the financial ramifications,” Sithole said.

Sithole suggested that an up-to-date report, which indicates the number of objections and how those objections will be processed rather than starting from scratch with the process.

“If we do that, where there are substantive issues that are raised, we can then go onto the supplementary evaluation roll.”

“At some point we were told there’s about 4 000 objections that have been received. We need to understand the nature of those objections. We are supposed to deliberate the nature of those objections to proceed with the process.”

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