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Thursday Aug 24, 2017

Tshwane agricultural rates under question

Allegations that owners of agricultural property in the metro faced an average rates increase of 464% in the new financial year were untrue, MMC for Finance Mare-Lise Fourie said yesterday.

The MMC was setting the record straight regarding property rates on agricultural land, particularly in Lombardy.

She said the allegations on these issues created false expectations. "This allegation is based on the incorrect assumption that such properties are in fact deemed to be smallholdings and used for agricultural purposes and not simply for residential purposes."

Fourie said instead, in terms of the city's 2017/18 budget, the rates in the rand on agriculture properties decreased by 1.62%.

With regards to property valuations, she said, people needed to understand that a municipality could levy different rates for different categories of property.

This was determined by the use of the property, permitted use of the property or a combination of both. "Factors that determine the property rates payable by a particular property owner are the value of the property, the category of the property and the annual rate approved by the council."

MMC for Corporate and Shared Services, Cilliers Brink, said the City had been granted leave to appeal against the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, ruling in the so-called Lombardy matter.

He said the dispute was about the payment of municipal rates by owners of vacant land in the former Kungwini municipality.

"One of the merger's many complications was a disjuncture between the respective ratings policies of Kungwini and that of Tshwane," he said.

In Kungwini, vacant land was categorised as "residential" for the purposes of levying property rates, but in Tshwane vacant land had its own category. As a matter of policy the former City government levied unusually high rates on such properties in an attempt to encourage development, Brink said.

"Tshwane no longer disputes that the passing of the 2012 Supplementary Valuation Roll - making Tshwane rates applicable to Kungwini properties - was legally defective."

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