Joburg property owners facing stiff tariff increases

Joburg residents should brace themselves for stiff municipal tariff increases from July 1 - especially those in the higher end of the market and those using a lot of water and electricity.

They will be hit doubly hard because of the increases in the new municipal valuations that come into effect on the same day.

Yesterday, the City of Joburg tabled the proposed annual service tariff hikes, which total on average 11 percent at the highest level and about 5.3 percent at the lower end.

Property rates and taxes will increase by 11 percent, electricity by 8 percent, water by 11 percent and refuse removal by 6 percent.

Added to this will be an additional rates hike to cover the new higher property valuations. The average 11 percent increase applies to residents living in properties valued at more than R800 000, consuming over 500kW of electricity a month and over 40 kilolitres of water. However, this could be higher or lower depending on the amount of water and electricity used, and depending on the increase in valuation on the individual property.

Properties have been revalued according to what buildings are on the land, so two neighbouring houses in the same street could have a vastly different valuation.

The tariffs are only proposed at this stage, and residents will have an opportunity to object.

If accepted, properties worth about R800 000, using more than 500 kilolitres of water and 40kW of power, and paying between R3 000 and R4 000 a month, would pay about 8 percent more - between R240 to R320 more a month.

Those owning properties worth R400 000 and paying about R1 000 a month in tariffs would face a hike of about 5 percent, or about R50.

DA Joburg leader Mmusi Maimane said some of the increases were much higher than the inflation rate, estimated to be 5.9 percent, and that the council must explain to residents why increases of almost double the inflation rate were being instituted for property rates and water.

"These increases will hit lower and middle-income families especially hard. It is distressing that the city has elected to increase rates this significantly, given the terrible report card it recently received from the Auditor-General (AG).

"The AG's report makes it clear Joburg cannot account for its income, debt and expenses and is not delivering on its own objectives.

"The AG found that the city failed to achieve 89 percent of the objectives it set itself in the last year."

Mmusi added that a city that failed to deliver on 89 percent of its objectives did not have a mandate to increase rates and taxes above the inflation rate.

"Indeed, the people of Johannesburg are paying more and more for deteriorating service delivery."

Increases should be linked to inflation, to ensure that more of the people's money remained in the people's hands, Maimane argued.

The DA is to challenge the ANC on this matter in the council. But there is some good news. If you have pre-paid electricity meters, the proposed tariff increase is only 5 percent.

Also, homeowners whose properties are valued at under R200 000 will not pay rates, and pensioners on properties valued under R2 million will receive special rebates.

(The Star)

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