St Francis Property Owners News

St Francis Property Owners update

We have included some comments from readers at the end of the press release

We have had a busy month gathering the Consent forms to determine if the majority of St Francis Bay property owners support or oppose the SRA levy proposal. We have received, as at 22 February, 959 consent forms to-date with 78.4% supporting the SRA levy. We are reaching property owners across the country and elsewhere in the world. We have met with many of the Private Estates’ governing bodies to request their support for the SRA levy and establish any levy overlaps with their own internal levies. We are now gathering consent forms from the property owners in these private estates.

We have done a lot of work to calculate valuations and levy revenue projections for each suburb and private estates in St Francis, as this information has not been available from the Municipality. We need accurate levy revenue projections to finalise our detailed Business Plan which we will submit with our SRA application to the Municipality once we have the required majority of consenting property owners. We also need this information to explore the possible sourcing of loans to enable us to restore the infrastructure in a shorter period of time rather than a 10 year period and get the benefit earlier, but then use the levy to pay off the loan over a 10 year period.

There is a perception that the SRA levy proposal has been created by a few individuals. There is in fact a large group of people who have contributed to the formulation of the SRA proposal. We have nine SFPO Association committee members, three of these members each represent the St Francis Bay Riparian Home Owners Association, the Kromme Joint River Committee and the Kromme Enviro-Trust Committee; five SFPO NPC Directors; three Technical Committee members; a group of five people who drove the St Francis Vision 2030 process, and some fifty people who participated in this project. We have another twenty or more people dedicating their time to collecting consent forms.

We also have a group of eighty people who have donated R4.5million to the Saving St Francis Campaign allowing us to hire a project manager, repair Anne Avenue car park and upgrade the beach access facilities, complete the design of the George Road car park and access to the beach, hire Consulting Engineers to survey our roads, map the storm water drainage system, identify drainage hotspots for the Kouga Municipality to resolve i.e. Grand Comores/Aldabara intersection, Lyme Road North/Linkside Road intersection, Church dip, and Lake Geneva (Department of Public Works), source the water borne sewerage plans and solicit estimates for implementing these plans, requesting quotations for Phase 2A of the River, Beach and Spit long term solution, and submit a comprehensive Maintenance and Management Plan to DEDEAT for the ongoing maintenance of the dune on the Spit. The SFPO NPC also has a MOA in place with Municipality for overseeing all revetment repair work on the revetments protecting beach front properties on behalf of the Municipality. Some of this repair work has been completed (e.g. Anne Ave and George Road revetments) and some still to be done (e.g.  Aldabara and Ralph Road revetments).

The SRA proposal is all about giving St Francis a future that meets the expectations of the majority of property owners, residents and business owners.

There are a number of our retired community who are fearful of the additional financial burden that the SRA levy would mean to them. We fully understand their concerns. We have formulated a set of exemption criteria that we would apply to those who genuinely could not afford the levy. We are engaging with independent financial planners, who assist their clients with managing their investments and financial affairs, to see how they can help with the exemption application process and make recommendations based on the exemption criteria. All financial information shared is between the homeowner and financial planner and remains confidential.  However, there would need to be a way of ensuring that the exemption process is not abused, perhaps using independent audits and testing. We can leave this to be managed by the Municipality or we instead manage it through the SFPO NPC which will manage the SRA levy revenue, expenditure and restoration projects.

There are concerns that this levy is solely for the benefit of the Canals and Spit. The Spit is actually a minor part of the total cost. The big ticket items are the Roads/Streets (R97million), the de-silting of the River (R119million), and the Sewerage (R106million). The sand from the river will be used to re-build the beach and the dune on the Spit. Groynes will be used to hold the sand on the beach (R15million). Finally the Security Cameras (R25million) is the running cost of a 24 hour monitoring centre with cameras installed around the town (R2.5million per annum extended over 10 years). The roads and streets will be our most visible improvement in St Francis and so have to be our priority. We cannot start work on de-silting the river until the final solution is designed and the EIA is submitted to DEDEAT for approval, which we understand will be a 12-18 month process.

Opinions are for free, facts take a little longer to establish. Please don’t make the mistake of judging this proposal until you understand the facts. You are dealing with the future of one of your more important assets you own, your property in St Francis. Come talk to us at the SFPO if you wish to understand the facts, so that you can make an informed decision about the SRA proposal and levy.

Comments from readers:

“Thank you once again for all your effort, time and enthusiasm!  May this project be BLESSED and may the people from St Francis support and carry this committee forward and strengthen their hands! I think your latest newsletter explains everything very clearly.  I would like to suggest that it should be stated very clearly in your campaign that the levies are NOT to protect the beach front properties. Not everyone realizes that the home owners are busy with revetments (hopefully pretty soon!)  costing R400 000 – R500 000 per owner.  We have a beach front property and still encounter people (even friends) who comment on that!”

“Thanks again for all the hard work you are all putting into this save St Francis project. I know your patience is being tested every day, but please don’t give up on this so important vision. Keep up the good work!”

“I am sure that you continue to pick up flak from time to time despite your good intentions so just wanted to counter that with some encouragement :). Thank you to each of you for all that you are doing! In due course I think we (or our descendants) will all look back on this time as a pivotal point in the history of St Francis. Probably one just as important, if not more so than Leyton Huletts original establishment of the place. There is so much for everyone to loose if we all let the place decay. You are all doing a fantastic job. I commend you. Thank you.”

“Excellent newsletter. Thank you to all for the tireless efforts and the great work to date.”

“The FACT IS that you are still not FAIRLY REACHING ALL property owners and are thus if effect trying to railroad the SRA proposal through. The MAJORITY of ratepayers are not in St Francis Bay and may are not necessarily connected to your means of information distribution. ALL property owners should be given a fair chance to vote by being COMPLETELY informed with ALL the relevant information ATTACHED to their monthly property rates and utilities account otherwise this whole process will be completely UNFAIR!”

 

 

 

ANC walk out

ANC walk out of State of the Municipality address

Mayor Elza van Lingen One, must give a little respect, one supposes, to the ANC councillors who decided to stage a walk out before proceeding got under way at the Opening of Council and State of the Municipality address by Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen at Newton Hall, Jeffreys Bay yesterday morning. They at least stayed for the National Anthem and the opening prayers.

a really hot day it was probably a godsend as the fewer people packed into the Newton Hall the better and they certainly were not missed. Of course they would have missed out on a free lunch so one would hope that they advised the catering staff of their intentions prior to the event so as to at least save the council some money on uneaten meals. Once the preliminaries were done with, which incidentally included a lovely rendition of our national anthem and two other songs by the truly talented Kouga Choir, it was time for our Mayor to tell us what is happening in our part of South Africa.

One must say that in spite of inheriting an almost dysfunctional municipality from the many of the very Councillors who chose not to hear how the new council has managed to turn things around and having to deal with her own health problems, Mayor van Lingen certainly has retained a sense of humour. Without going into detail for the a synopsis of the address can be read from the link at the bottom of this post, it must be said there were a lot of positives amongst some of the negatives.

That we as a community are in for a tough few years as the council not only balances the books but at the same time delivers on its promises, particularly to the poor, there is little doubt. There has been much comment, not only on SFT but on other local media about the SRA proposal, both for and against. Whether the SRA is adopted in its present form or whether it is diluted down a bit to appease those who don’t want to be part of it, there is no doubt the St Francis community need to stop claiming entitlement because of the rates we pay as a community and rather start looking at how to start doing it for ourselves.

If you read but one section of the attached address go “ROADS”. The 2017 /18 budget will allow ONE KILOMETRE of road to be upgraded. That is not one kilometre in St Francis, that is one kilometre in Kouga so don’t hold your breath thatnit will be your road that gets a fixing.

 

Mayor’s Address – Kouga SOMA 2017 final

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%).