S­crap pro­per­ty va­lu­a­ti­on for 2 y­e­ars

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Letters | Briewe -

Grant Eas­ton wri­tes:

Being a ra­te­pay­er who wis­hes to be well in­for­med a­bout mu­ni­ci­pal matters I de­ci­ded to re­ad the bud­get do­cu­ments pre­pa­red and ap­pro­ved by our coun­cil re­cent­ly. T­hey are the u­su­al pret­ty bo­ring dri­vel of trying to paint a ro­sy pic­tu­re in an a­rea w­he­re it is techni­cal­ly im­pos­si­ble to do very much and w­he­re it would re­qui­re mas­si­ve fi­nan­ci­al in­jecti­ons from so­mew­he­re to do a­ny­thing me­a­ning­ful. So it’s the u­su­al ap­ple pie and ice cre­am. Then I got to the bit ne­ar the end:

“I must point out that as­ses­sment ra­tes will be ba­sed on the new ge­ne­ral va­lu­a­ti­on (GV) roll which co­mes in­to ef­fect on Ju­ly 1, 2017. The new va­lu­a­ti­on roll was com­pi­led by an in­de­pen­dent con­sul­tant in ac­cor­dan­ce with the re­qui­re­ments of the Mu­ni­ci­pal Pro­per­ty Ra­tes Act 2004, which re­sul­ted in all pro­per­ties in Knys­na being re­va­lu­ed ba­sed on their in­di­vi­du­al ci­r­cum­stan­ces.

“This has re­sul­ted in ma­ny pro­per­ties going up in va­lue and ma­ny going do­wn w­hen com­pa­red with the pre­vi­ous va­lu­a­ti­on ro­le. The­re­fo­re, alt­hough the to­tal re­ve­nue from as­ses­sment ra­tes is pro­jected to in­cre­a­se by on­ly 6% (which is less than in­fla­ti­on), the in­cre­a­se or de­cre­a­se in ra­tes for any in­di­vi­du­al pro­per­ty may va­ry con­si­de­ra­bly from the ge­ne­ral 6% in­cre­a­se.”

NO ‘IN­DE­PEN­DENT CON­SUL­TANT’

The “in­de­pen­dent con­sul­tant” bit is just non­sen­se. In Knys­na’s ca­se t­hey go to ten­der to ap­point a va­lu­er, who is then ap­poin­ted as the mu­ni­ci­pal va­lu­er. The “in­de­pen­dent” bit is the­re to gi­ve coun­cil the a­bi­li­ty to say, “Don’t bla­me us”. In big­ger mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties the va­lu­er is a full-ti­me of­fi­ci­al of coun­cil. Then “ma­ny pro­per­ties going up in va­lue and ma­ny going do­wn”, “the in­cre­a­se or de­cre­a­se in ra­tes … may va­ry con­si­de­ra­bly”. You bet it will. My in­cre­a­se is 32.8% and I li­ve in Old Pla­ce!

GVs are a­bout in­ci­den­ce shifts, ie which a­re­as are va­lu­ed mo­re and ra­tes mo­del­ling. Call me old-fashi­o­ned, but w­hen I did this we ga­ve coun­cil de­tails of the in­ci­den­ce shifts and we then ro­ads­ho­wed them to the pu­blic. I still ha­ve cold swe­ats a­bout the ra­tes meet­ing which ne­ar­ly 300 i­ra­te ra­te­pay­ers at­ten­ded – no po­li­ti­ci­ans in sig­ht. I am sad­ly not a­wa­re of either of t­he­se t­hings hap­pe­ning this ti­me a­round.

BACKROOM AP­PRO­ACH

This smacks of the old-sty­le backroom coun­cil ap­pro­ach that Knys­na had left far be­hind. I say this be­cau­se the ra­tes in­cre­a­se seems to me to be too e­a­sy. The ra­te in the rand has no­thing to do with the pro­per­ty va­lue. It is me­re­ly a de­vi­ce to cal­cu­la­te and ex­tract the tax that the coun­cil re­qui­res to ba­lan­ce its books, or mo­re li­ke­ly, in this in­stan­ce, ma­ke a fat sur­plus. El­se­w­he­re in the speech the ma­yor an­noun­ced that B&Bs are now ra­ted as do­mes­tic. How much ra­tes is that cos­ting and who is paying it? The ans­wer, of cour­se, is that I am. As an a­si­de, coun­cil has finally ad­mit­ted that Knys­na is a tou­rist to­wn. A de­ca­de ago the DA was still ar­guing that B&Bs should be char­ged as full bu­si­nes­ses if mo­re than two be­drooms we­re ad­ver­ti­sed. We are w­hat we are.

The Ra­ting Act and in­deed our ra­tes po­li­cy al­low for ra­tes dif­fe­ren­ti­a­ti­ons. For ma­ny y­e­ars coun­cil­lor El­rick van As­we­gen wan­ted us to dif­fe­ren­ti­a­te on the ba­sis of a­rea, for his­to­ri­cal re­a­sons. This coun­cil has, by ex­ten­si­on, just al­lo­wed ra­tes dif­fe­ren­ti­a­ti­on but ba­sed on usa­ge. In­te­res­ting to see w­he­re that will end.

I ha­ve a­voi­ded wri­ting a­bout the fi­res and the im­pact that it will cau­se on the ra­tes ba­se of the to­wn. I would ur­ge a­nyo­ne, if their hou­se was tou­ched or af­fected by the fi­re, to put in an ap­pe­al to the va­lu­a­ti­on ap­pe­al bo­ard.

AP­PE­AL BO­ARD

This is a ful­ly in­de­pen­dent bo­ard who ex­a­mi­nes e­ach ca­se on its me­rits. Va­lu­ers will pro­ba­bly tell coun­cil­lors and of­fi­ci­als, who will then tell you that on­ly tho­se pro­per­ties di­rect­ly af­fected can ap­pe­al. T­hey will try to co­me up with cri­te­ria. All of this is non­sen­se. If you are in an a­rea w­he­re the hou­ses on either si­de or a­cross the ro­ad ha­ve burnt then your va­lue will ha­ve been af­fected. So ap­pe­al. It is very pro­ba­ble that coun­cil will en­de­a­vour to keep the new GV as in­tact as pos­si­ble. At this ti­me this is ri­di­cu­lous. T­hey should s­crap the w­ho­le thing for two y­e­ars and then re­do it. That would be le­a­ders­hip.

The ma­yor said that the in­cre­a­se is “pro­jected to in­cre­a­se by on­ly 6%”. That me­ans the GV im­ple­men­ta­ti­on is not re­le­vant at this point. Coun­cil should the­re­fo­re look at their po­wers, ap­pro­ach the MEC if ne­ces­sa­ry, and pos­t­po­ne the im­ple­men­ta­ti­on of the new roll.

If you want to do your ra­tes sum, it is very e­a­sy. Ta­ke your pre­sent va­lue and sub­tract 100 000. Mul­ti­ply the a­mount re­mai­ning by the ra­te in the rand and then sub­tract 10%. The ba­lan­ce is w­hat you pay, either an­nu­al­ly or monthly. Com­pa­re w­hat your ra­tes are now to w­hat you will pay. Then com­pa­re it to the 6% the ma­yor u­ses as the “ge­ne­ral” fi­gu­re, but don’t f­or­get you are now sub­si­di­sing the B&Bs!

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