Extension granted on draft bill which will help municipalities charge landowners for developing properties
Johannesburg - The National Treasury has granted the public an extension to file submissions on a draft bill that seeks to help municipalities charge landowners for developing properties.
The Municipal Fiscal Powers and Functions Amendment Bill was published for comment in January, and allowed the public to comment until March 13.
But the department has since published a notice in the Government Gazette extending the period for comment until April 30.
The draft law seeks to regulate the powers of municipalities to levy development charges in respect of land development applications submitted to the municipality.
“The amendment bill establishes an unambiguous, fair and consistent basis for municipalities to recover development charges for all new land development projects that require statutory approvals through the municipal land use planning system,” the Treasury said.
The department also said the bill would increase the amount and the predictability of development charge revenue. It added that the proposed law would ensure that the cost of municipal infrastructure required to service new developments was borne by the direct beneficiaries.
“The bill restricts the scope of engineering services to those already covered in the definition of engineering services provided in the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act.”
According to the draft bill, if a municipality opts to levy development charges, its council should adopt a resolution and comply with the legislation. “A municipal council must adopt a policy consistent with this act on the levying of development charges.”
The anticipated policy is expected to provide for payment of development charges in tranches, and in accordance with a payment schedule for categories of land developments.
Municipalities are also expected to allow public participation before developing policy on development charges.
“The municipality must display the draft policy on development charges for a period of at least 30 days and advertise in the media,” reads the bill.
It also obliges municipalities to take into account public comments and representation when finishing their draft policies.
The bill also provides for municipalities to enter into an agreement with the owner of land developments on the installation of all or part of external engineering services, and that municipalities offset the costs against the associated development charges.
“Any capital infrastructure assets installed by a landowner in accordance with an agreement must, upon completion, become the property of the municipality,” reads the bill.
The National Treasury has previously said development charges would promote integrated planning and budgeting among the spheres of government by ensuring each sphere bore the full costs of infrastructure provision.
“The memorandum on the objective of the bill is that many municipalities face a fast-growing need for investment in infrastructure so that they can deliver municipal services.
“These investments are required to ensure that access to basic services meets the needs of a growing population,” reads the bill.