Strong protest against new city cleaning levy PDF Print E-mail
News - Aktueel
Thursday, 07 December 2017 06:16
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Residents, especially retired people and those living on smallholdings, are up in arms about the new ‘city cleaning levy’. On 30 November representatives of Pretoria’s retirement centres held a protest meeting at The Retreat at Hazeldean Retirement Village.

Henri Combrink, Cullinan chairman of the Transvaal Agricultural Union, said that he will soon announce the dates of community information meetings about this levy, which will be implemented in January.

The City of Tshwane introduced the application of this new levy on all municipal accounts in the October billing cycle. According to Lex Middelberg, chairman of the Tshwane Money Matters Caucus, the levy is a municipal tax charged on the pretence that it has something to do with city cleaning and it is charged over and above the service fee for waste removal.

Lex said that the new levy will be a blow to retired people with limited income and financial expectations. People living on smallholdings have no access to municipal waste removal or ‘cleaning’ services, yet they still have to dock up.

The Tshwane Money Matters Caucus has lodged written objections against the levy with the city’s municipal manager, the minister of finance, the MEC for local government and the auditor general of South Africa for reasons that the levy is unauthorised, unregulated, unbudgeted, unconstitutional and ultimately unaffordable.

Fund
The constitution states that a local government is limited to fund its budget from property rates and surcharges on services rendered. It may only raise a municipal tax if it is authorised in terms of national legislation.

Parliament passed the Municipal Fiscal Powers and Functions Act, 12 of 2007 (The MFPFA) to regulate the authorisation of a municipal tax. The MFPFA provides that the minister of finance must approve a municipal tax and pass regulations to determine the amount thereof, the tax base on which it may be raised, the period of raising it and to ring-fence the funds for the purpose of the tax.

To get authorisation for a municipal tax the municipality must follow a strict application process, in which it must identify the tax base, declare the purpose for which the funds will be used and prove the affordability of the tax to the intended tax base.

Only if the minister is convinced that the tax is fair and affordable and that it will not have a negative effect on the national tax base, will he grant authorisation and pass regulations.


Lex Middelberg

Failed
According to Lex the city has failed to comply with the Act. The city’s “municipal code” does not contain a ministerial authorisation of, nor any regulations covering the city cleaning levy.

Lex said that the council of the city has not approved any application to the minister for a city cleaning levy since May 2011 and no Provincial Gazette containing regulations or an authorisation of the city cleaning levy exists.

A public furore erupted after the first attempt at the introduction of the levy. The MMC for finance then issued a media statement, which said that all ratepayers are liable for the city cleaning levy from 1 July 2017, and that “the tariff structure for refuse removal has always contained the city cleansing charge”.

She also explained that “the city cleansing levy is to cover the cost of, for example, illegal dumping and city and street cleaning services”. “The city recognizes the impact that this has had on these consumers and has taken the decision to postpone the implementation of the city cleansing levy to 1 January 2018.”

Untrue
According to Lex these statements by the MMC are untrue and contentious. The wording of the tariff makes the tariff applicable only to ratepayers that do not pay any other waste account at all.

“The MMC’s claim that the levy is intended to cover the cost of cleaning up after illegal dumping and street cleaning is simply untrue,” said Lex. “The levy is not linked to any quantifiable service delivery obligation and the funds are not ring-fenced for that purpose.”

The city budget provides for the expenditure of cleaning up after illegal dumping and street cleaning as part of the item ‘waste management’. The total budgeted expenditure for waste management for this financial year is R1.079 billion, against the corresponding revenue for the item budgeted at R1.457 billion.

Lex said this means that the city is already making a profit on waste management of R378 million and it doesn’t need an additional ‘levy’ to cover those costs as claimed.

Pay
Tshwane has 871 518 residential ratepayers and 25 214 commercial, industrial and mining ratepayers. This means that 871 518 residential accounts must each pay the city R127.04 per month and that 25 214 businesses must each pay R2 911.67 per month. Multiplied by that number of residential and business accounts over 12 months, this adds up to R2.2 billion annually.

Lex said that there is evidence that the city is treating every account in the name of a company, corporation or trust as a ‘business’ account and claim R2 911.67 each. There are approximately
120 000 such accounts, which means that the city will raise R5.4 billion through the levy.

The attempted billing run in October seems to suggest that the city is charging the levy per bin and not per account holder, in which case about R7.2 billion will be raised with the levy, said Lex.

Exceeds
“Irrespective of whether it is R2.2, R5.4 or R7.2 billion, the figure exceeds the revenue for waste management and it does not appear anywhere in the budget. If the revenue was actually budgeted for by the city, the mayoral committee could not so casually have decided to waive the revenue from
1 July 2017 to end December 2017,” Lex said.

“This would have occasioned a hard to explain loss of budgeted revenue in an amount of between
R1.1 to R3.6 billion for the half year. Only the full council could have made that decision and it would have had to pass an adjustments budget to do this, which it has not done,” he said.

 

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