Nkomazi Municipality has appointed DDP Valuers to process the new valuation role of all properties in Nkomazi, for the period 2013-2017. Learning this, organized trade left no stone untouched to immediately bank public meetings with the appointed group, in a desperate attempt to not again live through unreliable and suspect valuation processes and any possibility to suffer the consequences of weak performance of valuers, or their untrustworthy procured results. The initiative from Chris Engelbrecht (realty specialist and property owner in Malalane) sparked off the invite by Neccta (Nkomazi East Combined Chamber of Commerce), Malalane Sakekamer, and MPPOA (Marloth Park Property Owners Association) to DDP to do public hearings in the tree respective towns. The farmer associations and NRPAS joined the effort, and DDP Valuers gladly welcomed the opportunity. Public meetings accordingly followed in Komatipoort, Marloth park and Malalane on 22 and 23 May 2013. The attendance signified rooted concerns in the mids of the tax payers and flamed discontent with especially the status quo.
The chairs and conveners of the organized forums are unanimous the floor assumed DDP valuers has what it takes to effectively do the valuations. This group’s history evidences a well-deserved strong standing in the trade. Responses from Bertus van Eck, project coordinator and spokesperson, to several questions and enquiries left the consumers satisfied DDP could do justice to the process and findings. Remarkable aspects of the address included:
· DDP liaises with each and every property owner directly, by electronic communication, simultaneous and irrespective of the municipal (obligatory) communication/s
· The software and practical instruments appropriated by DDP meet latest technology demands, and their proposed and tested procedures and integration methods leave little scope for miscommunication or mistakes
· The people involved and deployed all seem to have reputable credentials
· DDP has sound expertise in the differentiated market, to assess the distinctive subject matters e.g. residential, commercial, special and also farms
On the negative side it was clear from the different floors the tax payers certainly are not at all satisfied with the existing role, or with what transpired to date to render the role. Foremost it was evident that in as far as most of the attendees were concerned, the Nkomazi Municipality failed to duly entertain the discontent of tax payers, and failed to address and manage the assessment failure and objections. Combined with an experience that “there is no one to talk to at the Municipality” this lead to anxious and unhappy tax payers. The floors all remarked that to date numerous disputes declared against the previous assessments, have not yet been replied to. Attempts to pursue those matters lead most of these tax payers to surrender their efforts. Farm owners declared a willingness to pay, once and only when their farms have been assessed properly, and they enjoyed a decent interaction with Municipality, that has to date not been possible. Their implicit resolution became to have the funds available, and to only pay when they are satisfied a reliable process lead to acceptable results. To date that has not yet happened. Yet it is clear to all that Municipality has continued with collection steps against tax payers, who failed to pay the demanded taxes and rates, ironically, whilst municipality could have and should have taken visible measures to avail communication to the tax payers with concerns.
Van Eck emphasized that objections are individual matters, and could not be the subject of collective action. It was however clear that in the minds of a majority of tax payers in Nkomazi, interaction with Municipality was a wasted effort, as they got nowhere but to resolve they are wasting their time. Most attendees are of the opinion Municipality continued to apply and appropriate findings based on untrustworthy work. It might have been more appropriate, in the tax payers’ minds, for Municipality to have rejected the valuation product tendered, and for Municipality to have fallen back on the previous role, until a rectifying role would have been procured by reliable experts, such as DDP Valuers seems capable to do. “Has municipality paid for what we are to pay?” many asked. “Have they claimed our money back? When will they respond to our objections, and enable communication that opens the discussion?” These could not be answered by Van Eck, and in the absence of Municipal representation, remained unanswered.
Of course there are many tax payers who are not uncomfortable with the present role, especially where extreme under assessment were done, or their positions changed little from the previous role. However, in the context of the present unsatisfactory situation, those frustrated with existing troubling assessments and excessive rated demanded taxes and rates could benefit well from discovering in time the results of the process DDP Valuers embark upon. Based on their findings, the tax payers could in time approach Municipality to attend to the discrepancies that would then be evident, or would attract a reply, if then not from Municipality, then from DDP – relying on their communication systems and their integrating their communication database with Municipality. Civil claims may ensue. It would not be too surprising if Municipality then might be challenged to credit accounts. One group affected that would certainly engage with Municipality then, in a constructive manner, would be the farming industry’s farm owners.
The public hearings proved to have been highly in demand, and necessary.
What is the most important to take home, Corridor Gazette asked the chairs of the various community organization forums. “Make sure Bertus Van Eck and DDP Valuers do have your email addresses, and that you have theirs!” seem to be the answer, for now.
Van Eck stated that the current valuations roll will be in effect until June 2014. The valuations that are currently being done are to be completed by the end of 2013, and handed over to the Nkomazi municipality by December 31, 2013. Subsequent to this there will be a new round of public participation, with opportunities for property owners to dispute or challenge the new valuations on their properties. Once valuations have been completed and accepted by all, the budgeting process of the Nkomazi Municipality will kick in and new tax rates will be determined. These tax rates are bound by law to limit the overall budget increase to a certain maximum percentage, which means that it would be illegal to double your taxes if the value of your house doubles overnight because of a new valuation.
It was made clear that this is a completely new valuation, that does not use previous values as a reference. Market value is the only determinant of value for residential properties, whereas valuations of business premises, guest houses, etc. are influenced by revenue and rental. Property values may therefore significantly change overnight, but bearing in mind the effect of and constraints on the Municipal Rates Policy the actual cash-flow effect of taxes should be close to inflation.
It is in the best interest of Nkomazi property owners to ensure that all properties are valued accurately and fairly, as undervaluations has the effect of increasing the tax rate to achieve budget objectives. This detrimentally affects those whose properties are correctly valued. The process affords every owner the opportunity to have a valuation revisited if deemed unfair or inconsistent with others in the same area.quiries regarding the valuations to be done could be directed to Bertus van Eck of DDP Valuers - 0824930940 On local level, concerned property owners could liaise with the organized forums leaders: Malalane – Pottie Potgieter, Marloth Park – Pat Williams and Komatipoort Jan Engelbrecht.