‘I wish I could pee in the bush’

Knysna-Plett Herald - - News - Ya­seen Gaf­far

Knys­na ra­te­pay­ers are up in arms o­ver the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty’s a­dop­ted 80% in­cre­a­se in sewerage and wa­ter ta­riffs and the Knys­na Ra­te­pay­ers’ As­so­ci­a­ti­on has co­me out strongly a­gainst the new met­hod of cal­cu­la­ting the ta­riffs.

So­me re­si­dents don’t want to pay the in­cre­a­ses, such as Pe­zu­la re­si­dent Bar­ry Web­ster. “If it we­re pos­si­ble I would dis­con­nect my sewerage ser­vi­ce and go toi­let in the bush. How can they ex­pect us to af­ford such a high in­cre­a­se?” he as­ks, ad­ding that the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty has fai­led to ap­ply the re­ba­te for pen­si­o­ners. Ac­cor­ding to his cal­cu­la­ti­ons, the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty has been char­ging him the full in­cre­a­se sin­ce Au­gust.

‘No choi­ce to hi­ke ta­riffs’

Ma­yor Mark Wil­lem­se an­noun­ced re­cent­ly that wa­ter and sewerage ta­riffs char­ged in 2017/18 fai­led to co­ver the cos­ts of de­li­ve­ring the ser­vi­ces and coun­cil had no choi­ce but to hi­ke the ta­riffs. The mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty was i­ni­ti­al­ly ad­vi­sed to hi­ke the ta­riffs by 140%, he said, but af­ter a pu­blic par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on pro­cess the ta­riffs we­re re­du­ced to 80%.

The KRA has re­spon­ded with scep­ti­cism: “’How can it be re­du­ced to 80%? W­he­re is the ot­her 60% co­ming from now?” a s­po­kes­per­son says.

The as­so­ci­a­ti­on’s bo­ne of con­ten­ti­on is the new met­hod u­sed to cal­cu­la­te the ta­riffs. W­he­re­as the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty u­sed to char­ge one ta­riff for an en­ti­re buil­ding, now, ac­cor­ding to Wil­lem­se, a ba­sic char­ge will ap­ply for e­ach pro­per­ty con­nected to a sewerage re­ti­cu­la­ti­on, “per dwel­ling, per u­nit, per pre­mi­ses, ir­re­specti­ve of the num­ber of toi­let/ u­ri­nals or the si­ze of the dwel­ling, dwel­ling u­nits, bu­si­ness u­nits/shops per pre­mi­ses”.

Re­si­dent La­ra Fen­ton says they ha­ve a s­mall bu­si­ness in Ti­de S­treet and be­cau­se of the­se high ta­riffs, all bu­si­nes­ses in the s­treet will c­lo­se. “They (the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty) ha­ven’t pro­ved them­sel­ves but con­ti­nue to de­mand exor­bi­tant ta­riffs,” she says.

‘Un­ba­lan­ced sy­stem’

The KRA says the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty has now cre­a­ted an un­ba­lan­ced sy­stem that will ha­ve a gre­at im­pact on s­mall bu­si­nes­ses, which are now char­ged for e­very u­nit in a com­mer­ci­al com­plex, so that a s­mall shop of 25sq m that ma­kes use of a com­mu­nal toi­let in the buil­ding will pay the sa­me as a 2 500sq m su­per­mar­ket. “T­his … will cau­se ma­ny s­mall, al­re­a­dy st­rug­gling bu­si­nes­ses to fail,” the KRA sta­tes.

Com­mer­ci­al pro­per­ty o­w­ner Fran­cois Lam­precht says his bil­ling in­cre­a­sed from R5 000 to R115 000 a y­e­ar, which will need to be pas­sed on to the te­nants. “Most te­nants can­not af­ford t­his. The mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty needs to re­a­li­se that the­re is a lot of poor pe­op­le li­ving in Knys­na. Rat­her cre­a­te jobs than bill us such a­mounts.”

Lam­precht says he has tried e­very pos­si­ble a­ve­nue to re­ach a de­al with the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty, but that the­re is “no wil­ling­ness” to be re­a­so­na­ble.

The KRA says the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty should ha­ve ex­plo­red ot­her met­hods of bil­ling, such as the Ca­pe To­wn ta­riff sy­stem.

“The­re the sewerage char­ges are re­la­ted to a per­cen­ta­ge of the to­tal wa­ter con­sump­ti­on of the pro­per­ty, which can then be fai­r­ly and accu­ra­te­ly at­tri­bu­ted to the vo­lu­me of sewerage per pro­per­ty. W­hen it co­mes to the bu­si­ness/per u­nit/per shop/per pre­mi­ses sce­na­rio, the u­nit is char­ged on the per­cen­ta­ge of the en­ti­re pro­per­ty that it re­pre­sents,” the KRA sta­tes, con­clu­ding, “To ma­ke the bil­ling sy­stem for the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty sim­ple, to the de­t­ri­ment of the re­si­dents, is u­naccep­ta­ble.”

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