Johannesburg - The proposed 2014/15 City of Joburg property rates and tariffs bring mainly good news this year.

However, a shock revelation in the proposed tariff increases is that prepaid electricity is now more expensive than conventional electricity.

Although prepaid users do not pay the monthly service levy, thereby making it slightly cheaper, in the long run if they use a lot and are moved to a higher usage scale, the cost will overtake conventional electricity.

In the new proposed tariffs, the City of Joburg is clamping down harshly on people using large quantities of water and electricity, with costs rising by more than 10 percent at the upper ends of usage.

Good news for businesses is that their rates have been reduced from three times higher than domestic rate to -0.2 percent.

Refuse is up 6 percent, both domestic and sectional title rates up by 5 percent, electricity from 7.36 percent and water from 5.8 percent, depending on consumption.

Other good news is that the bin levy of R485 for lost or stolen refuse bins has been done away with. This is bound to be welcomed by residents who strongly objected to having to pay for replacement bins.

People with disabilities – whose property is worth less than R2 million and whose income is lower than R7 000 a month – now also qualify for a 100 percent rates discount. The rebate is 50 percent for those whose income is between R7 000 and R12 000.

Residents who want to pay their rates upfront for 12 months can now do so, and they will receive a 50 percent discount on the borrowing rates.

They will have to give the council a month’s notice.

Another innovation is that property owners living in the Corridors of Freedom (high density areas in the Perth Street area, Orange Grove, Alexandra and Turffontein) have been given an incentive for any new building developments and will pay only 25 percent of the rates as per the category of land for a period not exceeding two years during the construction phase and 50 percent of the rates during the first year of operation.

The property owner will pay full rates from the second year of operation on.

The bad news is that parking fees go up to R9.50 per hour (or R8.50 if motorists have a card).

The DA has generally welcomed the new tariffs.

Councillor Tim Truluck said there was nothing startling in the budget and if the council was trying to save water and electricity, it was moving in the right direction. “In principle, people who use more should pay more. The increases in the upper scale of use are quite dramatic and this should encourage people to use less. It also means people should guard against, and regularly check for leaks,” he said.

Truluck welcomed the scrapping of the replacement bin fee. “We (the DA) have been campaigning for this for a long time. The whole process of paying was irritating and time consuming for people who had to take a day off work to pay and get a new bin,” he said.

The average increase for a household living in a house in Parkhurst was about 8 percent. The pensioner rebate for people living in properties under R2m remained and was working nicely for most older people, he said.

Residents can send their comments to [email protected] or [email protected] before April 28. - The Star