Community forms consortium to oppose rate changes PDF Print E-mail
News - Aktueel
Tuesday, 22 August 2017 12:05
Untitled Document

A community consortium, which will fund a legal challenge to the City of Tshwane’s rate changes, was formed when about 250 people turned up at a meeting at Leribisi Lodge in Tierpoort on
3 August.

The new rates are the result of category changes of agriculturally zoned properties to the residential rating category. Owners of certain sizes smallholdings are faced by an enormous property rate hike of an average of at least 464%, which became effective on 1 July.

The recategorisation resulted in a fourfold rate increase, on top of which property valuations on average have also increased by about 16%. This means that the individual ratepayer has to pay an average of about R1 700 per month, with many well over R2 000, to cover the unforeseen increase.

The community meeting was convened by Lex Middelberg, chairman of the Tshwane Money Matters Caucus (TMMC). According to Lex the determination of what is agricultural land and how it may be rated is a national and provincial prerogative.

In terms of that prerogative a local authority may not rate agricultural properties more than 25% of the rate of residential properties, based on the municipal valuation of the property.

Evade
To evade this limit, the City of Tshwane resorted to provisions of the Municipal Property Rates Act (MPRA), which supposedly allows the city to identify different categories, name them at will and to impose different rates on these other categories.

However, nothing in the MPRA is a legal basis to exceed the upper limit on rates on properties set aside by provincial government as agricultural properties. It can only be less, but not more, Lex said.
According to Lex, the city failed to apply the requirements of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act in the process to change categories. The city also failed to comply with its duty to organise a public participation process as it applies under the MPRA and the Municipal Systems Act.


Lex Middelberg

Irrational
Lex said that the application of the rates policy is arbitrary and irrational, given that the city applies a four hectares cut-off when neither the by-law nor the approved Property Rates Policy provides for such a cut-off.

“Constitutionally and in terms of existing legislation the city had to consider the issue of affordability and equity to ratepayers. Conceivably they had to do a socio-economic study on the effect the category change would have – which they failed to do,” said Lex.

He said that as a result of all this the real rates burden on those living in the rural areas of the metro is now actually heavier than that of inner-city dwellers, because rural ratepayers do not benefit equally, and often enough not at all, from municipal services for which property rates theoretically provide.

Those in rural areas must self-fund services that city dwellers take for granted, while they have dirt roads and no access to infrastructure and services such as street lights, metro policing and emergency fire services.

The meeting at Leribisi Lodge resolved to not pay the residential rates on smallholdings, but to continue paying the correct rate for agricultural properties, pending a court challenge. A representative committee to oversee the consortium was elected.

WeCanWin
The meeting also approved the ongoing discussions with WeCanWin to include the claims of about 5 000 additional claimants against the city on account of the Vacant Lands Lombardy judgement.

This judgement was in favour of the community that set aside the 2012 supplementary valuation roll in respect of the unlawful recategorisation of residential property to vacant land with a punitive rate of six times that of residential property.

Henri du Toit, chairman of the WeCanWin initiative said that the legal principles set out in this judgement are applicable to the issue of agricultural properties as well.

For more information, contact Lex Middelberg, chairman: Tshwane Money Matters Caucus, at
083-627-3713 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Contact Henri du Toit, chairman: WeCanWin Initiative, at 082-445-0381 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

© 2016 Die/The Bronberger
Powered and hosted by Bronberg Online