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Wednesday May 02, 2012

Property rates put Comrades visitors on back foot

Commercial rates imposed on bed 'n' breakfast establishments in Pietermaritzburg have put more than 10 of them out of business and created a shortage of accommodation.

The upshot was that with accommodation establishments fully booked, the Msunduzi Tourism Association was prompted to invite residents interested in housing Comrades visitors to come forward.

The chairman of the Midlands B&B Association, Des Morgan, said the Msunduzi municipality had imposed small business levies of 70 percent to 80 percent for rates and about 50 percent for water, electricity, refuse and sewerage in July last year, but had only implemented the increases in November.

Last year Morgan wrote to the then city administrator, Sibusiso Sithole, who said officials would "look into the matter". That letter was followed up by one to municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi, who replied that the matter would receive attention.

Former B&B owner Guy Henderson said: "The increases put our costs up by R10 000. The margins are not high in this type of business. We were forced to close."

The B&B closures had placed an added burden on venues that had to cope with an influx of people drawn to events taking place this month. These were: Cars in the Park (May 20), the Royal Show (May 25 - June 3), Art in the Park (May 30 - June 3) and the Comrades Marathon (June 3).

Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said he was aware of the problems, adding that the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business had written to the municipality about the issue last week. "A strategic meeting will be held next week to discuss it," he said.

The Mercury

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