Higher rate costs upset former Umjindi residents

Nuns said during talks prior to the merger of the Umjindi and Mbombela municipalities last August, one of the benefits being bandied about included reduced property rates, as Mbombela Local Municipality property rates were far lower than those of Umjindi.

“To date, there has been little evidence of any benefits, and since the merger, local ratepayers have continued to pay the much higher property rates despite a drop in service.

At the budget meeting on May 10, it also transpired that the CMLM had decided these high rates would continue until a new valuation in 2018,” said Nuns.

He said they have been negotiating with the municipality since May 10 regarding this difference, which they consider unconstitutional.

“But despite this, the new rates published in the Barberton Times last Wednesday, indicated that property rates in Barberton/Umjindi are 52 per cent higher than those payable in the rest of the CMLM.

“In addition, their tax-free amount is 60 per cent higher than ours and pensioner discounts are also substantially lower than theirs,” continued Nuns.

He said CMLM argued that they could not change the situation now, because there are two separate valuations for the two different areas and they can only change the rates from July 2018 when a new valuation of the whole area is obtained.

“We believe that adjustments can be made now to make the rates more equitable and suggestions have been made on how to do this. However, they remain adamant that they cannot make changes now, which we have not yet accepted.

If it transpires that changes cannot be made now, then Barberton/Umjindi residents must be compensated for the considerably higher rates and reduced services received by allocating us a larger proportionate share of the budget to maintain our town until 2018 when the rates are adjusted so all areas pay the same,” added Nuns.

He said in these current circumstances, they have officially rejected the CMLM budget and the property rates applicable to Barberton/Umjindi. “We have asked the Provincial Treasury and the Department of Cooperative Development for assistance in resolving the challenge,” concluded Nuns.

Barberton Times

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