Overflowing audience at St Francis Property Owners AGM

St Francis Property Owners AGM propose an SRA

St Francis home owners packed the conference room at St Francis Links to overflowing last evening to attend the St Francis Property Owners AGM. After welcoming those in attendance, SFPO chairman, Wayne Furphy handed over the microphone to Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen who covered some of the challenges facing the DA led council since ousting the ANC in the August 2016 municipal elections.  Of matters van Lingen briefly covered, most interesting was the proactive stance council is taking with regard to Thyspunt.

Also covered in van Lingen’s address and later during the Q&A session were the availability of funds, or rather lack thereof, for any capital expenditure, particularly in the wealthier areas of Kouga. Whilst some may believe that the rates and taxes paid by St Francis residents should be allocated to St Francis this is never going to happen as understandably the majority of the municipality’s budget is spent on the upliftment of poorer areas of which Kouga has more than its share.  We all must accept that we live in a very different South Africa to what existed pre 1994 and realise we are not alone for lack of funding of for many cities, towns suburbs and villages across South Africa suffer similar lack of funding hence the growing number of SRA’s presently in force or being proposed across South Africa.

So what to do?

Wayne Furphy briefly sketched out the “St Francis Vision 2030” (read it if you have not already done so) before getting to the nitty gritty of the SFPO AGM and the reason for the overflowing meeting venue, how we can save St Francis.

At last year’s AGM, Furphy appealed to those present at that meeting to consider making donations to “Saving St Francis” fund. Over the year, donations amounting to a little less than R5 million were made, a drop in the ocean to what is needed to “Make St Francis Great Again”.

And so the alternative, declare St Francis a Special Rates Area (SRA).

St Francis property owners, business and home owners alike, pay amongst the lowest rates in South Africa.  To further compound the lack of contribution to the municipal coffers, 80 to 90% of homes are unoccupied for most of the year resulting in the municipality collecting substantially less income from profits derived for electricity and water usage that contribute significantly to the treasuries of most cities and towns.

By instituting a special rates levy, proposed at 50% of current rates, sufficient funds would be generated to upgrade and maintain all services and facilities over a proposed 10-year period. The mutterings that “why should I pay for the repairs for the spit, the beach, the dredging of the Kromme, et al, I don’t use them” really hold no ground because these assets, and others, make up the what St Francis is all about and why people buy property in St Francis be it as an investment, a holiday home or a permanent residence or why they holiday in our tiny enclave. How many home owners would sell up should the Kromme silt up and is no longer be navigable by small craft? If the beaches are left to erode how many holiday makers would choose alternative holiday destinations. If we are worried by declining service delivery whilst out local economy is still buoyant, what service delivery can we expect if home owners start selling up and holiday makers no longer choose us as the holiday destination. Will we still have a Superspar, a chemist, doctors, vets? Without tourism, local and international, will our golf courses, our B&B’s, our restaurants survive?

Without going into all the details of the proposed SRA, these will no doubt be posted of the St Francis Property Owners website in due course, can we afford not to support the concept of an SRA?

The SRA requires a majority vote of 50% plus one to be implemented and so the SFPO will be undertaking a voting poll where property owners will be asked to vote either FOR or AGAINST the proposed SRA. You can cast your vote today by SFPO-SRA Voting Form completing it, signing it and returning it to the SFPO offices now situated in the Alva-Merle building at 115 St Francis Drive, mailing it to PO Box 18, St Francis Bay, 6312 or scanning the completed and SIGNED form to contact@sfbresidents.co.za.

NOTE: A 50% levy would constitute 50% of your present rates – ie. Should your present rates be R1000 the levy would be R500. Certainly the SFPO has considered those who simply cannot afford the full levy and Furphy stressed that exemptions or reductions will be considered where such situations arise.

It is important to note that all funds collected from the SRA levy would be allocated directly to St Francis, not the Kouga municipal funds for use elsewhere.

You can download the voting form here.