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​City officials engage ratepayers​


 
Johannesburg residents who attended a Property Rates Policy review meeting at Marks Park Sports Centre in Emmarentia on Tuesday night used the opportunity to raise personal queries they had about the evaluation of their properties.
But City officials gave residents the assurance that the City is taking their grievances seriously and would act on them.

Veli Hlophe, the City’s Deputy Director of Policy and Revenue Enhancement, asked those who had problems or queries to email him at velih@joburg.org.za.

A resident, who did not want to be named, had earlier said the value of his property went up 354% after City officials first evaluated it in 2013. He said he had gone to the local customer service centre to seek clarification but the matter has not yet been resolved.

Eric Parson of Sophiatown said the value of his property was increased by City officials from R390 000 to R1.2-million within a short space of time. He later learned that 15 other homeowners in his neighbourhood were paying far less than him.

Another resident, who did not reveal his name, said staff at customer service centres were incompetent and lacked a sense of urgency. He said he went to the City’s 61 Jorissen Street offices in Braamfontein to apply for a pensioners’ rebate. Instead of being given a rebate, he received letters demanding he pay R4 800 in outstanding rates and taxes.

Randburg councillor David Potter told the meeting that there were 1 266 unresolved queries and advised residents with complaints to go to walk-in centres for assistance. “If your case is not resolved, go to your ward councillor. If you still find no joy, refer the matter to the Group Head of Revenue. If you are still not happy, report it to Member of the Mayoral Committee Geoffrey Makhubo,” he said.

Hlophe urged residents to attend follow-up meetings in April and May when they would get answers from officials.

Hlophe urged residents who wanted to renovate their homes or turn them into business premises to have their plans approved first. He said there were 800 properties that had been flagged after they had been found to have not followed the rules.

He also encouraged pensioners to apply for rebates.

Residents aged between 60 and 69 qualify for a 50% rebate. Those aged 70 and above qualify for a 100% rebate and have to reapply every four years. The meeting was part of the first round of a consultative process that will culminate in the 2016 City Budget speech to be delivered by MMC Makhubo later this year.

The second round will take place in April and May during which time new proposals and feedback will be presented. This is an important process through which the City encourages residents to participate in the determination of rates and taxes for the new financial year.

Residents are advised to voice their comments on the City’s website www.joburg.org.za or at a customer service centre. Submissions can also be made via email to Rates Comment @Joburg.org.za until February 27.