Far­mers up in arms

Mossel Bay Advertiser - - News - Nic­key le Roux

Se­ver­al con­cerns rai­sed re­cent­ly by far­mers in the g­re­a­ter Mos­sel Bay a­rea re­gar­ding mu­ni­ci­pal ta­riffs and ser­vi­ces ha­ve co­me to the fo­re.

The Brak Ri­ver Far­mers' As­so­ci­a­ti­on, a­mong ot­hers, in­di­ca­ted its dis­sa­tis­facti­on with the most re­cent va­lu­a­ti­on pro­cess and ra­tes de­ter­mi­na­ti­on.

The far­mers' as­so­ci­a­ti­ons in­ti­ma­te they we­re gi­ven the as­su­ran­ce that e­very mem­ber would be con­tacted in­di­vi­du­al­ly by re­pre­sen­ta­ti­ves of the va­lu­a­tor to as­sist in de­ter­mi­ning a fair pro­per­ty va­lu­a­ti­on, but that not a sin­gle mem­ber was vi­si­ted or con­tacted by the va­lu­a­tor or their re­pre­sen­ta­ti­ves.

Ra­tes and taxes

"We ha­ve no i­dea on w­hat ba­sis and at w­hat re­mu­ne­ra­ti­on this firm did the va­lu­a­ti­on for the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty," a mem­ber of the far­mers' as­so­ci­a­ti­on told the Mos­sel Bay Ad­ver­ti­ser.

He rai­sed con­cern a­bout the pro­per­ty ra­tes that we­re in­cre­a­sed by ap­prox­i­ma­te­ly 300% from the pre­vi­ous va­lu­a­ti­on.

In re­spon­se, the Mos­sel Bay Mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty said the last ge­ne­ral pro­per­ty va­lu­a­ti­on was un­der­ta­ken fi­ve y­e­ars ago and that, as a re­sult, pro­per­ties, in­clu­ding a­gri­cul­tu­ral land was un­der­va­lu­ed.

The re­cent ge­ne­ral va­lu­a­ti­on broug­ht pro­per­ty va­lue in li­ne with mar­ket va­lue.

"All pro­per­ty o­w­ners, a­gri­cul­tu­ral lan­do­w­ners in­clu­ded, we­re gi­ven an op­por­tu­ni­ty to ob­ject a­gainst their pro­per­ty's re­vi­sed va­lu­a­ti­on. If still dis­sa­tis­fied, an ap­pe­al could ha­ve been lod­ged with the Va­lu­a­ti­on Ap­pe­als Bo­ard. The pu­blic par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on pro­cess was con­clu­ded be­fo­re the va­lu­a­ti­on ro­le was im­ple­men­ted," the mu­ni­ci­pal ma­na­ger, Ad­vo­ca­te T­hys Gi­li­o­mee said.

A­gri­cul­tu­ral land is le­vied on 25% of the re­si­den­ti­al ra­te for the pro­per­ty, re­sulting in pro­per­ty ta­riffs being lo­wer than that of re­si­den­ti­al or ot­her pro­per­ty. This, ac­cor­ding to the mu­ni­ci­pal ma­na­ger, sig­ni­fies the im­por­tan­ce pla­ced on a­gri­cul­tu­ral land and its con­tri­bu­ti­on to­wards the lo­cal e­co­nomy.

E­lec­tri­ci­ty

Ad­vo­ca­te Gi­li­o­mee sta­ted that far­mers we­re le­vied a spe­ci­al ta­riff of "A­gri­cul­tu­ral Sup­ply" for e­lec­tri­ci­ty and al­so on a spe­ci­al e­lec­tri­ci­ty ta­riff which is le­vied for wa­ter pumps. No ba­sic fee is char­ged on the­se spe­ci­al ta­riffs, and on­ly the usa­ge is le­vied.

"All pre­paid e­lec­tri­ci­ty me­ters being u­sed in the mu­ni­ci­pal a­rea are sup­p­lied with 20K­wh of free e­lec­tri­ci­ty monthly, and in­di­gents are sup­p­lied with 50K­wh of free e­lec­tri­ci­ty."

Far­mers voi­ced their dis­sa­tis­facti­on at not re­cei­ving any mu­ni­ci­pal ser­vi­ces for the see­mingly exor­bi­tant char­ges they are le­vied.

Far­mers say they are for­ced to main­tain a mu­ni­ci­pal wa­ter me­ter within an ur­ban or pe­ri­ur­ban zo­ne for lo­a­ding week­ly drin­king wa­ter in bulk quan­ti­ties for em­ploy­ees and they are pe­na­li­sed on quan­ti­ty con­su­med.

Ac­cor­ding to the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty, wa­ter is char­ged for on a s­li­ding sca­le si­mi­lar to e­very ot­her ca­te­go­ry of u­ser in the Ta­riff List. The mu­ni­ci­pal ma­na­ger in­vi­ted far­mers to con­tact the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty's ru­ral de­ve­lop­ment de­part­ment to as­sist with the pro­vi­si­on of wa­ter tanks and the monthly sup­ply of 6kl wa­ter to qua­li­fying far­mers. The de­part­ment of wa­ter affairs and sa­ni­ta­ti­on may be con­tacted to pro­vi­de bulk wa­ter points, toi­lets and sep­tic tanks in ru­ral a­re­as as it is its com­pe­ten­cy, the mu­ni­ci­pal ma­na­ger in­sis­ted.

Hou­sing

Far­mers rai­sed con­cerns a­bout farm wor­kers ha­ving dif­fi­cul­ty acces­sing ur­ban hou­sing.

Ac­cor­ding to the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty, the lo­cal go­vern­ment works clo­se­ly with the pro­vin­ci­al De­part­ment of Hu­man Sett­le­ments in im­ple­menting hou­sing pro­jects for the com­mu­ni­ty.

"Qua­li­fying farm wor­kers may par­ti­ci­pa­te in hou­sing pro­jects and it is ad­vi­sa­ble their na­mes are in­clu­ded on wai­ting and be­ne­fi­ci­a­ry lis­ts for cur­rent and fu­tu­re hou­sing de­ve­lop­ments. Mos­sel Bay has re­si­den­ti­al si­tes a­vai­la­ble at a re­du­ced pri­ce in se­ver­al a­re­as, spe­ci­fi­cal­ly for first-ti­me ho­me­o­w­ners. The­se si­tes may be pur­cha­sed for the o­w­ner to build their own ho­me.

"Should any pro­per­ty o­w­ner, not on­ly o­w­ners of a­gri­cul­tu­ral land, be dis­sa­tis­fied with their pro­per­ty va­lu­a­ti­on and wish to ap­pe­al the va­lu­a­ti­on, they may re­quest the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty in wri­ting for a sup­ple­men­ta­ry va­lu­a­ti­on to be un­der­ta­ken," Ad­vo­ca­te Gi­li­o­mee said.

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