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Wednesday Jan 18, 2012

Public meetings on Joburg property rates

Joburg residents who feel that their property rates are unfair now have an opportunity to get the rating policy changed.

The City of Joburg will hold public meetings over the next few weeks to get input from residents.

In the past, residents have expressed little interest and the meetings have been poorly attended.

But the Joburg Advocacy Group is encouraging people to attend and to influence changes to the policy.

According to the group's Lee Cahill, there are some major concerns about the policy as it stands, which residents should be pushing to change.

The main ones are about the valuation of property and the determination of rates.

Rates are based on the council's general valuation roll, and property valuations are now based on both land value and the value of improvements - buildings and improvements on the land.

Valuations are supposed to be market-related and rates charged accordingly.

"However, as market values have either stayed static over the past four years or, in some areas, have fallen, many owners feel that their properties are overvalued and that rates are being determined by budget requirements rather than by market value."

Residents, said Cahill, should be able to query their property valuations using a property questionnaire on the council's website, on the e-services section, but this service is not working.

The advocacy group is pushing for the policy to contain amendments that should state the methodologies the council used to determine market values and give an outline of the recourse available to ratepayers if their property valuations are in question.

Cahill said the group was concerned that rates were being increased to service expensive short-term debt, which the council has had to resort to using as a direct result of its mismanagement of billing and revenue.

For details of the policy and public meetings, visit the council's website at www.joburg.org-DOT-za Comments can be e-mailed to Ratescomments-AT-joburg.org.za, dropped off at 66 Jorissen Street, Braamfontein, or faxed to 011 727 0189. Written comments can be made until February 25.

The Star

    
 

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