Outcry as BCM rates bills hit

 

Ratepayers are furious with their new BCM rates bills this month, which are linked to the controversial house valuations earlier this year.

Some properties were doubled in value. Now it seems that homeowners who objected to the valuations may have to pay the new increased bills despite their objections.

It was possible for objecting residents, of which there were many, who believed their new property valuations were unjust to lodge an objection with the municipality up to April 26.

The basis of objections included allegations of outdated aerial photographs, lack of on-the-ground inspectors and complaints that residents were not informed of their new valuation. BCM disputed these claims saying they had used Oblique 3D imagery taken in 2017 and a service provider had appointed data collectors to conduct physical inspections.

BCM blamed residents, saying inspectors were often refused access to the properties.

In a GRA meeting last month Henk Els, a facilitator at BCM, said the rates would go up in July and people, regardless of valuation objections, would have to pay. Els said when the results of the objections were released in November those who were successful would be reimbursed.

“Pay as much as you can. They can’t penalise you if you don’t pay the full amount but pay as much as you can. If November comes and your objection is unsuccessful you will be expected to pay the outstanding amount,” was his advice.

“Pay as much as you can. They can’t penalise you if you don’t pay the full amount but pay as much as you can. If November comes and your objection is unsuccessful you will be expected to pay the outstanding amount,” was his advice.

David Pape complained on Facebook that his bill had skyrocketed from R4,000 a month to R20,000.

Knoetze said: “I’ve received lots of complaints. Even mine has gone up. It’s horrendous.

“My property went up 80%. We have just got to trust that come November our objections will be successful and we will be reimbursed.”

DA executive committee member Neil Smith agreed that the safest bet was to pay and hope for a refund.

“The understanding of the DA is that the objections are being assessed and should be completed by the end of the month,” said Smith adding he could not comment on the gap between the new bills and the objection results saying it was “obviously a municipal issue”.

BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said the results of objections would be released in batches from mid-September onwards. While BCM understood residents were upset with the slowness of the process it was because each objection had to be considered individually and “handled with the sensitivity it deserves”.

“Consumers are advised to make a payment (an amount based on their suggested value in terms of their objections) towards their rates account due to the following reasons: An objection does not necessarily mean the value will be reduced. The value may remain the same, may be reduced or even increase. It will vary depending on individual cases,” he said.

“Once the objection is finalised, accounts will be adjusted with effect from July 1 2018. This will be back-dated and take into account all the calculations.” Refunds “may most likely be in the form of an account credit”, he added. “As we all know, rates are an important factor in keeping our city running, hence the need for them to be regularly updated to keep up with inflation and the rising costs of service delivery.”

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