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Monday Jan 22, 2018

Durban asked for pensioners' rates reduction

Ratepayers' associations have urged the municipality to increase the rates rebate threshold for senior citizens from R2 million to R3 million and resolve the billing system before the City of Durban implements a rates increase.

Associations responded to the municipality's recent call for public comments on the draft rates policy document for the 2018 to 2019 period, which is expected to be amended and adopted in July.

Copies of the policy document are available at Sizakala centres, libraries, the city hall and municipal websites.

The city maintained the purpose of public participation was to ensure all regulations were complied with in terms of sections 4 and 5 of the local government municipal property rates act.

The deadline for input and submissions from the public is January 31.

The associations are of the view that the present rates bill imposed by the city was already too high.

Since July, pensioners who owned properties worth R2m and less qualified for a rates rebate.

Dave Ferguson, chairperson of the Central, Outer West Ratepayers' Association, which covers areas like Kloof, Gillitts and Everton Park, said the reduction had a huge impact on senior citizens.

"If they want Durban to be a place to retire and the most caring and liveable city, then why do they want to put greater strain on retired people. The city wants to raise its revenue by making residents pay more for rates. The city raises enough revenue through the various services it provides, but is being crippled by corruption and maladministration."

Tony Clothier of the Far Outer West Ratepayers Association, which includes areas from Hillcrest and Drummond to Inchanga, said from a market point of view the municipality was charging more than any other major city (Cape Town and Joburg).

"The pension rebate was reduced, which we did not initially understand, and the rates in the upper highway areas is exorbitant compared to the more developed areas.

"Most residents are using septic tanks for sewage, but the municipality has been charging a sewage levy. What for?"

City spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa encouraged residents to read the policy thoroughly and make their voices heard by providing feedback.

"The city's rates policy is based on important legislation, which is the Municipal Property Rates Act. Municipalities are expected to be self-funding with municipal income raised from three main sources, service charges for water and electricity and property rates.

"The income derived from the payment of rates by residents and business owners is used to pay for a range of public services. From the maintenance of roads and traffic lights to providing and maintaining parks, libraries, clinics, recreation centres and other similar services used by the public."

She said that municipalities were also allowed to define categories of owners to whom rebates, deductions and exemptions might be granted.

"Pensioners and disability grantees will receive a rebate, while sporting bodies and public benefit organisations will receive exemptions provided they meet the required criteria. All comments and suggestions will be taken into consideration," she said.

City Watch
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