The City of Joburg, has for the first time in history, collected a record of R3.6billion for rates and service charges for the month of August. This constitutes collection of R400million more than the budgeted revenue.
This follows numerous complaints from residents still reporting over-billing and illegal/unfair cut-offs.
City member of the mayoral committee for finance Funzela Ngobeni said that over the past four months there had been sustained improvement in the city's billing and collections, with average monthly collections of R3.3bn from May to August.
“The past administration's highest average monthly collection reached R2.8bn by comparison. This performance has been possible due to the implementation of a focused, multi- disciplinary approach to billing and collection management under our leadership,” he said.
The city remains focused on targeting those who have not paid for rates and services, while clearly having the means to have done so. The success of Operation Buya Mthetho in this regard had been excellent, he added, collecting more than R707m over the past seven months.
“Further to this, the city has tackled its debtors book, which stood at over R18bn, and this is now producing results. The city has also focused its credit management work on the largest power and water users, which ensures a higher return of revenue for these efforts.”
Ngobeni said more than 85% of the city's operating budget was derived from its own revenue generation and its ability to address the service delivery failures that plague residents.
“This is wholly dependent on revenue collection. We must put to bed those doomsday prophets who have continued to predict the imminent financial collapse of the city.”
The city has reported that its spend of the capital budget had reached 91% and 98.5% of its spending on infrastructure grants by the end of the 2017/18 financial year.
Reacting to complaints over the overvaluation of properties with the new general valuation roll, Ngobeni reiterated that residents who objected to their valuations, and pensioners, should continue to pay their previous rates along with the current service charges until their applications/objections had been heard.
Pensioners, especially those whose properties have been valued at more than R2.5m and those previously exempt from paying residential rates and now expected to pay, are facing difficulties.
Chris Graham says he has lived in his house for nearly 50 years.
“Until recently, the valuation on my property was R1.36m, which was consistent with the figure associated with the houses in my suburb. In the recent reassessment, my valuation was raised to R3.16m, despite there having been no changes whatsoever to my house or its location. I believe this is an error caused by the council having mistakenly located my property in an adjacent prestige walled-estate development. This was borne out by three independent estate agents, and I entered my objection,” he said.
He has since received his first bill under the new rating and found that he is owing nearly R1900 a month extra in rates.
“I'm a pensioner and simply cannot meet that demand,” he said.
Eddie Price, also a pensioner, said that for many months he did not receive the monthly statements.
“I pay by debit order and noticed increasingly large amounts being deducted each month from what used to be about R3000 to nearly R8000. One contributing factor is rates which hit nearly R1800 a month, up from my previous pensioner-rebated zero figure. I am disabled and the thought of having to go to the Metro Centre is perturbing. I have tried unsuccessfully to phone to discuss the problem but no one answers the phone,” he said.