Property Rates Bill: deliberations

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

27 May 2003
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Meeting report

PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
28 May 2003
PROPERTY RATES BILL: DELIBERATIONS


Chairperson:
Mr Y Carrim (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Local Government Property Rates Bill (B19-2003)

SUMMARY
The Committee continued its informal deliberations on the Bill and considered Chapters Six, Seven and Eight. The committee focused on the composition and functioning of the appeal board which has the powers to hear and decide appeals against the decisions of a municipal valuer concerning objections to matters appearing on, or omitted from the valuation roll of a municipality. Thereafter it looked at the municipality's powers to cause supplementary valuations to be made whenever it is necessary to do so.

MINUTES
Chapter 6: Valuation Rolls
Clause 44: Processing of objections
Mr Mizilikazi Manyike(Director: Municipal Finance Policy) pointed out that Clause 44 instructed a municipality to consider objections in accordance with a procedure that may be prescribed and decide the objections on facts, including facts submitted by an objector and if the objector was not an owner, by the owner. The municipality could then adjust the evaluation roll in accordance with the decision taken.

Mr P Smith (IFP) asked under what circumstances would an objector be not the owner. A DA committee member asked who prescribed the procedure for objections.

Mr Manyike pointed out that the Minister may, in the form of regulations, prescribe the procedure for objections.

The Chair asked whether it would be legally sound for Clause 44 to provide that "where there was an objection, an inspection had to be compulsory".

Mr Manyike stated that it would be too onerous on the valuer to do an inspection for every objection.

The Chair then proposed that Clause 44 had to be drafted to the effect that, where it was necessary, the valuer had to consider a physical inspection.

Mr Manyike pointed out that the power for a valuer to inspect property was provided in Clause 65(1) of the Bill.

Mr G Grove (National Treasury: Legislative Drafter) proposed that Clause 44 be crafted to the effect that "a municipal valuer must promptly consider objections in accordance with a procedure that may be prescribed".

Clause 45: adjustments to valuation rolls
Mr Manyike stated that Clause 45 grants powers to a municipal valuer to adjust the evaluation roll accordingly.

The Chair pointed out that Clause 45(2)(a)(i) was tautological and confusing. There was also a need to define "the effective date" within the context of that clause.

Mr B Komphela (ANC) concurred that there was a need to craft Clause 45 in more user-friendly language unless the redraft would have fundamental legal bearings in other clauses.

Clause 46: Compulsory review of decisions of municipal valuer
Mr Manyike stated Clause 46 provided for the compulsory review of decisions of municipal valuer. If a municipal valuer adjusted any valuation following an objection by more than 10 percent upwards or downwards, the valuer had to provide reasons to the municipal manager who could submit the valuer's decision to the relevant appeal board for review.

Mr Smith asked the Department why it chose the marginal figure of 10 percent.

Mr Manyike said that the cases below 10 percent could be quickly decided and by that fast-tracking the whole process of objections.

Mr Grove added that the intent of Clause 46 was also to combat corruption.

The Chair concurred that the intent of Clause 46 was to counter corruption as well as to comply with the provision of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.

Mr N Machlalan (ODA) commented that Chapter 6 appeared to deal with the administrative process underpinning the evaluation process and the functioning of the appeal board.

Clause 47: Notification of outcome of objections and furnishing of reasons
Mr Manyike pointed out that Clause 47 requires that a municipal valuer notify the objector in writing about the outcome of the objection and also the owner of the property concerned, if the objector is not the owner.

Clause 48: Right of appeal
Mr Manyike pointed out that Clause 48 allows an objector who was not satisfied with a decision of a municipal valuer to lodge an appeal through the appeal board in the manner set out in Clause 48.

The Chair asked the Department to explain the difference between Clauses 48(1)(a) and 48(1)(b).

Mr Smith asked whether the appeal process starts to apply after the roll has been finished and published.

Mr Machlalan pointed that it was important not to provide an open window process up to the last minute because that would destabilise the source of revenue for the municipalities.

Mr Smith asked whether a municipality could object to a valuer who was its official.

Mr Manyike stated that there is a Code of Conduct to which all the valuers had to adhere. Hence a municipal valuer may not compromise the Code in favour of a municipality.

Mr Machlalan pointed out that in terms of Clause 31 a person appointed as a valuer was a statutory appointee. Hence the evaluation process was a separate and independent process in which there was always an arms length relationship between the municipality and the valuer.

Chapter 7: Valuation Appeal Boards
Clause 49: Establishment of valuation appeal board
Mr Manyike stated that Clause 49 grants powers to the MEC for local government to establish an evaluation appeal board with it own jurisdiction.

No questions were asked in respect of this clause

Clause 50: Functions
Mr Manyike informed members that Clause 50 was setting out the functions of an appeal board.

No questions were asked.

Clause 51: Composition
Mr Manyike pointed out that Clause 51 set out the composition of an appeal board.

No questions were asked.

Clause 52: Disqualifications
This clause set out the grounds for the disqualification of the members of the board.

No questions were asked

Clause 53: Term of office
Mr Manyike stated that in terms Clause 53 the term of office for members of the appeal board was four years, but members were eligible to be reappointed.

No questions were asked.

Clause 54: Conditions of appointment
Mr Manyike stated that Clause 54 gave powers to the Minister to determine the conditions of appointment of members of an appeal board in consultation with the MECs for local government.

Mr Smith asked whether the Minister could also determine how the members of the appeal board got paid.

Mr Manyike stated that a municipality would incur all the costs

Clause 55: Conduct of members
Mr Manyike stated that Clause 55 sets the code for how members of an appeal board should conduct themselves.

Clause 56: Termination of membership
Mr Manyike said that Clause 56 sets out the grounds for the termination of membership of the appeal board.

Clause 57:Alternates
Mr Manyike stated that Clause 57 gives powers to the MEC for Local Government to appoint alternate members of an appeal board when a members was absent or had vacated office.

Clause 58: Meetings
Mr Manyike stated that Clause 58 deals with procedures for the meetings of the appeal board.

The Committee accepted Clauses 59, 60, 61, and 62 as they are.

Clause 63: Order as to costs
The Committee concurred that Clause 63(a) should be flagged until it has received a comment from SALGA concerning this provision. It further agreed that the Department should present clarity as to the meaning of "or opposition to an appeal".

Clause 64: Committees of appeal board
Mr A Lyle (ANC) asked who would be responsible for funding the boards and its activities.

The Chair responded that in terms of Clause 64(5) the municipalities would be responsible to fund those boards as indicated in Clause 54(3).

The Committee accepted Clauses 65 and 66 as they are.

Clause 67: Powers of appeal board
The Chair noted that Clause 67(1)(e) stipulates that a document may be retained for a period of three years. He then asked why the three-year period had been suggested.

Mr Manyike (DPLG) responded that since they assumed that they would be dealing with original documents they felt that such period would be sufficient.

Clause 68: Proceedings by, or against, appeal boards
The Committee accepted this clause with the amendment that a comma should be inserted in Clause 68(1) after the word "against" in line 14.

Chapter 8: Supplementary Valuations
Clause 69: Supplementary Valuations
Mr G Grove (National Treasury) noted that this provision should be understood to mean the amendment of the valuation roll.

The Chair concurred with Mr Grove's interpretation and added that in all probability any change or addition to an existing valuation in terms of any condition laid down in Clause 69(1) would definitely result in the amendment of that valuation. He noted that the Committee would also consult with the valuers so as get their opinion on this.

Mr Grove proposed that "as" should be inserted in Clause 69(3) in order to read: "Supplementary valuations must be made as at the date of valuation that applied to the last general valuation.".

The Committee accepted the proposal and noted that the Department's technical committee may refine the wording if deemed necessary.

The Chair thanked those in attendance and requested the committee clerk to ensure that all parties are represented at the next committee meeting, 30 May, since the committee would commence formal deliberations on the Bill.

The meeting was adjourned.

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