Ra­tes re­lief for fi­re victims

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Voorblad - – Ju­lie Jef­fe­rys

To as­sist the o­w­ners of the 564 hou­ses com­ple­te­ly de­stroy­ed by the re­cent fires, the Knys­na Coun­cil ap­pro­ved the wai­ving of pro­per­ty ra­tes for one y­e­ar for the­se fi­re victims du­ring a S­pe­ci­al Coun­cil meet­ing on 24 Au­gust.

T­his con­tri­bu­ti­on by the Knys­na Coun­cil is va­lu­ed at R16.5-mil­li­on. To da­te the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty has spent o­ver R7.5-mil­li­on to re­sto­re e­lec­tri­ci­ty and wa­ter ser­vi­ces, pro­vi­de wai­vers to de­mo­li­ti­on and plan­ning ap­pli­ca­ti­ons and sup­port re­lief ef­forts.

Knys­na ma­yor E­le­a­no­re Bouw-S­pies says the wai­ving of the­se ra­tes af­fords af­fected re­si­dents respi­te from paying pro­per­ty ra­tes for the 2017/18 fi­nan­ci­al y­e­ar.

The­se pro­per­ties will be re­ca­te­go­ri­sed in terms of Secti­on 78 of the Mu­ni­ci­pal Pro­per­ty Ra­tes Act

6 of 2006 from either “re­si­den­ti­al” or “bu­si­ness”, to “va­cant land”.

Mu­ni­ci­pal ma­na­ger Kam C­het­ty was de­le­ga­ted by Coun­cil to in­ves­ti­ga­te the le­gal pos­si­bi­li­ty to pro­vi­de par­ti­al re­lief to pro­per­ty ra­tes.

T­his secti­on al­lows the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty to ad­just the va­lu­a­ti­on roll w­hen ne­ces­sa­ry, for re­si­dents who can pro­ve that their hou­se was par­ti­al­ly da­ma­ged by the fires, and no lon­ger ha­bi­ta­ble. The­se par­ti­al ra­tex­emp­ti­on ca­ses will be hand­led on an in­di­vi­du­al ba­sis.

So­me Gre­a­ter Knys­na re­si­dents rai­sed con­cerns a­bout the re­cent pro­per­ty ra­tes in­cre­a­ses. Pro­per­ty o­w­ners we­re gi­ven an op­por­tu­ni­ty to com­ment on the re­cent pro­per­ty va­lu­a­ti­on, which was ad­ver­ti­sed in the lo­cal news­pa­per on 9 and 16 Fe­bru­a­ry. The de­ad­li­ne for com­ments was 7 A­pril. The Fi­nan­ce Di­rec­to­ra­te will be hos­ting meet­ings with Gre­a­ter Kn­syna’s ra­te­pay­er’s as­so­ci­a­ti­ons to ex­plain the ra­tes in­cre­a­se.

The di­sas­ter has me­ant that the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty will ha­ve to ap­ply s­trict con­t­rol me­a­su­res in re­spect of ex­pen­di­tu­re ma­na­ge­ment, as the re­ve­nue that was an­ti­ci­pa­ted will di­mi­nish with the num­ber of hou­ses de­stroy­ed. It will not just im­pact t­his fi­nan­ci­al y­e­ar, but will ha­ve an ef­fect for y­e­ars to co­me. A furt­her as­pect that a­ro­se from the di­sas­ter, which was de­alt with in the ad­jus­t­ment bud­get, is the is­sue that in­ter­net con­necti­vi­ty can­not be lost nor can the­re be any do­wn­ti­me du­ring a di­sas­ter. Fun­ding has been al­lo­ca­ted to the ITC de­part­ment for im­pro­ving the cur­rent sy­s­tems.

The ma­na­ge­ment of a­lien ve­ge­ta­ti­on needs to be ad­dres­sed ur­gent­ly.

To t­his end, it was sta­ted that en­vi­ron­men­tal con­t­rol pro­gram­mes need to be im­ple­men­ted o­ver the next fi­ve y­e­ars, which will not on­ly re­du­ce the fi­re risk, but will im­pro­ve the wa­ter cri­sis.

Short-term me­a­su­res to al­le­vi­a­te the wa­ter cri­sis are being ad­dres­sed, by pro­vi­ding fun­ding for three pro­jects, na­me­ly the springs at Bon­ga­ni, the de­wa­te­ring of the Mak­hu­lu quar­ry and the Sed­ge­field re­ser­voir bo­re­ho­le pump. As t­his bud­get will im­pact on the ser­vi­ce de­li­very and bud­get im­ple­men­ta­ti­on plan (SDBIP) of the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty, the SDBIP will be re­vi­sed to bring it in li­ne with the ad­jus­t­ments.

P­ho­to: Ju­lie Jef­fe­rys

The glow of the fi­re a­bo­ve B­ren­ton on Sea on 7 Ju­ne just be­fo­re e­va­cu­a­ti­on. Ni­ne­ty-two hou­ses the­re we­re da­ma­ged or de­stroy­ed.

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