Comments and Posts

Comments and Posts on SRA

There appears to be some misunderstanding as to how comments are added to articles on St Francis Today (SFT) with some readers suggesting we may be ignoring their comments by not publishing them or rather hiding them by not publishing them in new posts the following day.

All comments made by readers are automatically attributed to the article / post to which their comments are directed. This is common practice with most websites worldwide where comments are encouraged. These comments are never hidden and are always available when referring back to a particular article. To say the comments are not seen again simply is not true for statistics show that older posts are regularly accessed either directly or via Google searches. All comments are published!

In an effort to make both previous articles and comments more visible, St Francis Today has created a Special Rates page on St Francis Today Website where all articles on the SRA dating back to 22nd December 2016, along with all comments can be read. We trust this assists those wishing to refer back to previous articles, posts and comments.

With regard to St Francis Property Owners association responding directly to comments on St Francis Today it must be stated that this is possibly not the correct forum as they have their own website where they post information on the SRA. St Francis Today does from time to time assemble a series of queries from comments and requests feedback for SFPO. This is done once a week and we will no doubt have some feedback before the weekend.

All SRA Posts and Comments are available on either the St Francis Today home page or on

http://stfrancistoday.com/latest-news/special-rates-area/

United we conquer

United we conquer – Divided we fall

Reading an article in the Financial Mail published on Friday, “Bankruptcy stalks Nelson Mandela Bay” truly brings things into perspective regarding the DA’s ability to hold onto power that was hard won in the August 2016 municipal elections.  That the DA faces a Catch 22 in many, if not all of the recently gained municipality’s is a reality for, as FM’s commentary so succinctly puts it, “DA and its partners must take the chance of being labelled antipoor, or see the metropole’s monetary affairs worsen even further”. Let’s rewrite that last bit “see Kouga’s, particularly St Francis’, monetary affairs worsen even further”.

There can be no doubt that to hold onto power the DA will have to pour money into the poorer communities. No matter how the wealthier “white” areas bleat how their rates and taxes should be spent in their areas, it’s not going to happen. Some will say so why keep the DA in power if it is not going to benefit us? Well the truth is that the DA will benefit us if  for no other reason than keeping the ANC out and hopefully providing a corruption free municipality that will at least deliver some of the services required of them. Remember it was the ANC that created the problems the DA has to now face so best they be kept away from causing more mayhem.

This commentary is neither in support of the St Francis Property Owners Special Rates Area proposal nor any of the other initiatives which are suddenly being proposed. Whatever choices are made in the coming months, one thing is absolutely certain, if the local property owners and yes even non-property owners don’t anti-up, the future looks increasingly bleak.

It really is time for the entire community to start to pull together and forget the petty differences. Whether we live on the banks of the Kromme, the Canals, the Village, Santareme, the Port, Links, Airpark or Cape St Francis, private estates or not, it is time to find common ground. Let’s bury the petty differences and personal concerns and look at the problem as something that will influence our way of life long into the future.

Maybe it is time for elected representatives from all governing body’s / areas lock themselves in a room and not emerge until they reach consensus on what needs to be done and that is acceptable to all property owners and businesses alike.

The year is marching on and the new Kouga budget will be finalised in July so whatever needs to be done by St Francis residents (all its residents) needs to be done now so that whatever is finally decided is in place well before that then lest we have to wait another 12 months for then it could be too late.

 United we conquer – Divided we fall

Cape St Francis Civics comment

There has been much written both in terms of articles posted on St Francis Today and comments in response to these posts regarding Cape St Francis’ participation in St Francis Property Owners Special Rates Area proposal. Recent communication with members of Cape St Francis Civics as well as an e-Mail from a committee member possibly clears up some of the, shall we call it confusion, with regard to how they, Civics, see things.

The following by mail from Shirley Cowling

The Cape St Francis Civic Association would like to put out the following statement:

it is not against the establishment of Special Rates Areas. In fact, we investigated the establishment of a Special Rates Area in September 2015: A  link to a newsletter dated 12 September alludes to the fact that an SRA was being discussed – see newsletter

We concluded that:

  • No vote to call for the establishment of a Special Rates Area can be called until the Kouga Municipality has a published and adopted By-Law, including policies and regulations, governing Special Rates Areas.
  • The By-law and policy will dictate the due process to be followed regarding the establishment of a Special Rates Area.
  • One of the first steps in the application process would be to determine the boundary of the SRA. We believed a smaller area would be better and more affordable for Cape St Francis residents. We must be mindful of affordability in our area.

As no by-laws for SRA’s have been promulgated in the Kouga, the current vote is nothing more than an indication to the Kouga Municipality that there is a need to promulgate the by-law to allow for SRA’s. There should be no fear that CSF is either left out or will not in future apply to be a SRA.

The committee decided, after extensive consulting with experts and other SRA’s, that it would not be detrimental to either St Francis Bay or Cape St Francis if two separate applications were made for SRA’s – both applications will be in line with the Integrated Development Plan for the area and therefore to the benefit of the entire area.

http://openbylaws.org.za/za-cpt/act/by-law/2012/special-rating-area/

 The bottom line is that the current voting process is not in line with the prescribe procedures.  Nobody can be asked to vote until they know what they are voting for – there must be both a detailed business and an implementation plan.  Then there will be no need for any queries about ring-fencing funds Cape St Francis funds.

COMMENTS vs ARTICLES /  POSTS

Recently we have had requests from readers to post their comments on published articles as new articles. To clarify this, comments are made against a particular article rather than as a new view on a subject matter and as such remain COMMENTS. These comments are held in the web archives and can be read at any time in the future as all articles too, are kept in the archives. To access all articles and comments visit http://stfrancistoday.com/latest-news/latest-posts/

Reader Michael Hornsey has requested that we publish his comments on a letter submitted by Neil Brent for which we make this once only exception only because of a misunderstanding  by St Francis Today. We encourage readers to submit news  no matter how controversial such news may be but do ask that it be original rather than as a comment on what others have submitted. And we encourage comment on articles for whilst some readers my believe these disappear, they do not and are often read weeks and even months later  on Google searches.

St. Francis Today: Thank you for allowing me a reply.

Letter from Mr. Neil Brent 07/02/2017.

Well done Neil on some extremely valid points on the proposed levy.I must say that a number of them could be legally challenged with confidence.

On the one point regarding the voting rights of owners (rate payers!) of individual units within these developments, I have been the owner and ratepayer of my unit in a 7 unit complex for almost 30 years and would demand of this committee the right of an individual vote, and not having the chairman of the body corporate voting for me, or for any of the other 6 owners of the complex with ONE combined vote for the entire body corp. which may not reflect my wishes.I believe that ALL rate paying owners irrespective,MUST be allowed their right of a vote !!

I would also like to know that the voting forms have a Number printed on each form which would allow an independent audit of the final vote count.

My wife and I voted for the Democratic Alliance in the past election and were happy at their long fought success as our new municipality…HOWEVER the DA in their election manifesto promised to attend to the infrastructure problems of the Village.This we will now be forced to pay by an increased amount added to our existing rates payment legally enforceable by the DA Municipality!!

I SUGGEST THAT WE ALLOW THE DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED DA COUNCIL THE OPPORTUNITY NOW,IN A REASONABLE TIME, TO DELIVER ON THEIR PROMISE TO THEIR VOTERS.

Regards,

Michael Hornsey…(Erf. 1402/3)Santareme,St. Francis Bay.

The Money Spend

Where the money will be spent!

The St Francis Property Owners (SFPO) to their credit have done a huge amount of work researching and consulting to develop a working proposal to save St Francis from the decline it is experiencing. It would appear that there are still many property owners who are unaware of what has been proposed as well as uncertainty on how money raised under the SRA will be spent. Below is a pie chart of the spend based on what the SFPO have proposed, St Francis Special Rates proposed expediture To date held six public meetings, 13 monthly newsletters have been sent to the property owners database and two websites SFPO Association and the SFPO NPC have been setup to assist in informing owners. In addition a Facebook page as well as a WhatsApp, group have been set up to encourage debate. Many one on one meetings have also been held with individuals and small groups along with replies to queries answered both telephone or by eMail.

The SFPO Association committee, the directors on the SFPO NPC and the members of our Technical committee are all volunteers, focusing on the survival and restoration of our town. As all are themselves retired, they are acutely aware of the importance of the retired community to the well-being of St Francis. There is a plan being formulated to define exemption criteria to ensure that those who cannot afford the levy will be exempted to a lesser or greater degree. Property owners are encouraged to educate themselves on what has been proposed and why the suggested SRA levy.

The SFPO obviously believe in what they have proposed and will continue in their efforts to advise and educate, not only the property owners but the local public at large, on the importance of a solution to St Francis’ present declining infrastructure.

The Municipality has very significant financial constraints, as do many other Municipalities around the country and thus the SFPO sees the proposed SRA as a way forward but at the end of the day it is the property owners themselves who will make the final decision.

To date the voting count stands as follows:

Total Votes cast to date – 820 votes

676 Yes votes (82.4%)

144 No votes (17.6%).

The debate continues

The SRA debate continues

Prior to our brief ‘holiday’ last week, St Francis Today was in the process of compiling a document covering many of the questions asked and answered in various posts and comments on our publication regarding the SRA. We are continuing with compiling this document  that we hope will answer most concerns. In addition to just simple Q&A’s we will also be seeking comment from organisations such as FOSTER who undoubtedly play a huge role in St Francis’ well-being as do the Kromme Enviro-Trust, St Francis Bay Canals Riparian’s, the Joint River Committee,the not  to be forgotten, Cape St Francis Civic  association and of course, the Kouga Municipality.

Obviously this will take time to compile but we hope it will assist in giving a clearer picture of the SRA from all sides of the village’s fast decaying road network.

In the interim St Francis Today received the following from reader Neil Brent a week or so ago but owing to our unexpected situation last week we did not publish it. Neil wrote us yesterday and asked us to please publish it. We do have concerns that some of the points raised have in fact been covered by answers from the St Francis Property Owners committee but be that as it may, here is Neil’s contribution to the ongoing debate

“We all would like to “make St Francis great again”, and hats off to the committee’s hard work and dedication to that goal,  – BUT-  we need to get our ducks in a row before voting.

Rod Suter’s letter – (ref. St Francis Today 20-01- 2017) – highlights valid concerns expressed by many residents regards the SRA proposal, and raises yet other questions that need answers before committing to a binding legal vote.

  • According to the Moneyweb report – 11-10-2013 – (link at foot of Suters letter – “special rating areas boost values and security”) – a majority of 66% is required to legally enforce a levy of this sort, not the 50+1 as put forward?!
  • Private” estates are totally reliant on St Francis infrastructure for access and services!!.

How can it even be suggested that those individual residents somehow be excluded from the liability of the levy that is to improve those same services!!

*Pensioners on dwindling fixed pensions, on application ( embarrassing anyway for them) will be assessed for relief of some sort.  – by WHOM?, on What Criteria? and WHEN? – before, or after, they are locked into a legally binding levy?   

  • If individual residents do not, or if they cannot pay the levy, now or in later years as inflation dictates, can their homes be legally attached and sold by the Municipality to recover the debt owing? The levy after all becomes another Municipal rate, does it not?
  • *Levies, once legally linked to Municipal rates could be liable to abuse, it seems.

Refer the sewerage levy, sold to residents originally as only +- R13.00 per month, now          in excess of R180.00 per month, on going, with many still not, and probably will never be connected. BUT we must all  pay up regardless – or else.

Alternatives, perhaps, to reduce the legal levy liability for residents?

  •  The SRA vision is for a R472 million project- at today’s prices!. Who knows what this will be in 10 years’ time – a billion perhaps?  
  •  How about dividing things into achievable bite size chunks, concentrating on the most essential initially, that will require a smaller hike in rates and be more acceptable to the general population?
  • Give the new DA council chance to get their budget in place, and to do what municipalities are supposed to do. Help out, yes, but try to avoid creating a duplicate Municipal structure.
  • Reduce the grossly overstaffed Municipal labour force by pruning out the unproductive deadwood that is costing us millions needlessly, – as any business would need to do.
  • Impose a suitable additional availability charge for water lights and services not used for +- 10 months of the year by +_90%   of the holiday homes to recoup portion of the shortfall.
  • Get signed voluntary commitments/levies for fixed amounts, for fixed periods, from those residents and businesses who feel they can comfortably afford the payments.
  • Pump Provincial and National departments of infrastructure, tourism, labour for assistance.

 Links can be found in Rod Suters letter..

Regards,   Neil Brent

Should Cape St Francis join SRA

Reader feels CSF property owners should make that decision

An interesting comment from a Cape St Francis property owner appears to reject CSF Civics decision to not join the St Francis SRA. Citing that three quarters of CSF home owners do not belong to the Civic association, the reader suggests that whilst CSF do not feel the neglect YET, there is nothing preventing non-civic members to join and thus improve services they would benefit from if the SRA is adopted.

It would be interesting to get comment from Cape St Francis residents for after all many who live in CSF rely on St Francis Bay for their livelihoods and as such the demise of St Francis Bay could seriously influence not only their futures but also their property values. There is no argument that St Francis Bay is the economic hub of the greater St Francis. Certainly CSF residents could use Humansdorp  and Jeffreys Bay for their shopping, banking and medical needs but without available work some, even if only a small minority,  would no doubt be forced to move to a less tranquil lifestyle than they enjoy at the almost southern tip of Africa.

Were the SRA go ahead with CSF participating there would need to be some form of guarantee that certainly  portion f the special rates paid by CSF would be ring-fenced for improvements to Cape St Francis. One would believe that the SRA committee would be more than open to negotiating an equitable arrangement to ensure CSF gets their fair share.

Read readers comment below

Less than a quarter of CSF property owners are members of the CSF Civic Association. Therefore the other three-quarters may reject the decision. It is a massive task to encourage owners to support the Civics. There is no one that prevents someone to encourage owners (1 quarter Civic members and 3 quarters non-members) to participate in the SRA initiative. Good luck. Maybe the Cape St Francis owners do not feel the neglect of the suburb as intensely as the St Francis owners, yet?