Property rates cover the cost of the provision of general services. Determining the effective property rate tariff is therefore an integral part of the municipality’s budgeting process. National Treasury’s MFMA Circular No. 51 deals, inter alia with the implementation of the Municipal Property Rates Act, with the regulations issued by the Department of Co-operative Governance. These regulations came into effect on 1 July 2009 and prescribe the rate ratio for the non-residential categories, public service infrastructure and agricultural properties relative to residential properties to be 25:1.

The implementation of these regulations was done in the previous budget process and the Property Rates Policy of the Municipality has been amended accordingly. The following stipulations in the Property Rates Policy are highlighted: The first R17 000 of the market value of a property used for residential purposes is excluded from the rate-able value (Section 17(h) of the MPRA). 20 per cent rebate will be granted on all residential properties (including state owned residential properties); 100 per cent rebate will be granted to registered indigents in terms of the Indigent Policy; For pensioners, physically and mentally disabled persons, a maximum/total rebate of 100 per cent will be granted to owners of rate-able property if the total gross income of the applicant and/or his/her spouse, if any, does not to exceed the amount equal to twice the annual state pension as approved by the National Government for a financial year.

In this regard the following stipulations are relevant: The rate-able property concerned must be occupied only by the applicant and his/her spouse, if any, and by dependants without income. The applicant must submit proof of his/her age and identity and, in the case of a physically or mentally handicapped person, proof of certification by a Medical Officer of Health, also proof of the annual income from a social pension. The applicant’s account must be paid in full, or if not, an arrangement to pay the debt should be in place; and the property must be categorized as residential.

The Municipality may award a 100 per cent grant-in-aid on the assessment rates of rateable properties of certain classes such as registered welfare organizations, institutions or organizations performing charitable work, sports grounds used for purposes of amateur sport. The owner of such a property must apply to the Chief Financial Officer in the prescribed format for such a grant. Water Tariffs South Africa faces similar challenges with regard to water supply as it did with electricity, since demand growth outstrips supply.

Consequently, National Treasury is encouraging all municipalities to carefully review the level and structure of their water tariffs to ensure:

1. Water tariffs are fully cost-reflective – including the cost of maintenance and renewal of purification plants, water networks and the cost associated with reticulation expansion;
2. Water tariffs are structured to protect basic levels of service and ensure the provision of free water to the poorest of the poor (indigent); and
3. Water tariffs are designed to encourage efficient and sustainable consumption.