At the Special Council meeting held Tuesday 17 July, Executive Mayor, Mark Willemse, tabled an item to review the availability charges levied on properties destroyed in last year’s fire.

The June 2017 fire disaster, the most catastrophic in the country’s history, left many destroyed properties in its wake. In an effort to provide relief to fire victims, Council resolved in August 2017 to waive the rates payable on these properties.

In terms of the municipal rates policy, these properties were then reclassified as vacant and consequently charged availability charges in terms of the approved council tariffs. Availability charges are generally higher than residential and is aimed to encourage owners to build as soon as possible. These charges are implemented by all municipalities in the country.

However, it was never the intention of the council to penalize fire victims. Having listened to various submissions from individuals and organisations, Council instructed the administration to prepare a review on these charges.

Tuesday’s decision seeks to rectify Council’s intentions. The impact of the resolution is as follows:

  1. Availability charges raised will be waived for the 2017/18 financial year on those properties that were totally destroyed by the fire;
  2. These properties will be charged as if they were residential properties (i.e as they were before the fire);
  3. A credit will be passed for the difference, and
  4. Where the property has been sold, the credit will be payable to the previous owner of the property.

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