Cape coastline. Picture: RUVAN BOSCHOFF
Cape coastline. Picture: RUVAN BOSCHOFF

The City of Cape Town has been urged to "slim down its bloated bureaucracy" rather than "bleed property owners dry" when it comes to a new round of property valuations.

The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Monday that it was easy to understand concerns that a new round of property valuations could be used as a tool to increase income for the city.

Capetonians are likely to receive notices early in 2019 of a new round of general valuations. Johannesburg residents were‚ in some cases‚ hit by property valuation increases of between 60% to 500% earlier this year.

"Government grants to local authorities have been reduced and income from the sale of water and electricity is down because people have found ways to use less power and water‚ so we do have a city hungry for more revenue from property rates‚" said a statement from Janine Myburgh‚ president of the Cape Chamber.

"The real problem‚ however‚ is the high cost of running the city. That includes a dozen years of above-inflation salary increases. The fix is to reduce administrative costs and not to bleed property owners dry."

Myburgh said that salaries in the public sector were often higher than in the private sector. "It should be clear to any thinking person that this pattern is not sustainable.

"People are sensitive to property-rates increases because it is an unfair system. The family which buys an old‚ dilapidated house and fixes it up does a huge favour to the neighbourhood and the community‚ but the council comes along‚ revalues the house and punishes the good citizen with a higher rates bill."

Citing concerns about the computerised system of valuations used by the city of Cape Town‚ the chamber said it worked well in some areas where the land was flat‚ plots were the same size and homes had a similar view. This‚ however‚ was not the case in Cape Town.

Some mountainside properties‚ for instance‚ had good views but virtually no sun in winter. Only a physical site inspection would pick up these anomalies.

"Other factors are the condition of the roads and quality of the services. In many areas property values had been enhanced. People actually paid extra for better services and then they were punished by higher valuations and rates accounts‚" said the chamber.

"We can have a situation where municipal services are inadequate and when property owners do something about it and improve the area‚ the council is rewarded with more revenue from rates. Frankly‚ this is undeserved revenue.

"If the council wants co-operation from ratepayers it should set an example by tackling its own costs and slim down its bloated bureaucracy."