The writerof the letter below implies that St Francis Today is ‘soliciting’ YES votes. St Francis Today has no intention of influencing votes other than to put out what we receive for readers to decide a YES or NO. But yes we are soliciting for comments in an attempt to put all the information out in the open. Readers are asking for transparency and answers to questions so that they may make a considered decision. We publish all comments and as stated previously, we are engaging with SFPO for answers which will be published once we have collated the information into a readable format that will either anser reades misgivings or give rise to more questions.

Whatever the outcome of the SRA the fact remains that something has to be done to arrest the decay of the St Francis infrastructure be it by way of an SRA or the Kouga Municipality somehow raising extra revenue (read article Kouga Finances under pressure but stable). Should they apply a rates increase across the region one can only imagine the outcry, not only from St Francis residents but indeed from Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp and all the other rate paying residents of the Kouga municipality. And if the council were to increase rates more inline with other municipalities, how much of this additional income would reach St Francis considering they simply have to give priority to the poor.

Rod Suter’s Letter

I object to the SRA proposal in its current form, and will not be supporting the SFPO in this initiative unless corrective action is taken.

 Vince’s letter has prompted me to respond – and apologies for the length, but my objections need detail for objective evaluation.

 I have previously communicated my concerns to SFPO, but the article today’s in SFT soliciting” YES” votes requires an objective response.

Firstly, I appeal to the SFB local community for support to encourage SFPO to take the necessary corrective action before it is too late.

Secondly, I must compliment SFPO on its work and achievements since its establishment, and in particular the enormous effort evident in developing the SRA Initiative and ‘Vision 2030’.

From my layman’s analysis, there are two fundamental problems with the proposed SRA initiative – both the proposed SRA Levy Structure and Voting Processes are flawed, which could result in the attempt to create a SRA being unsuccessful – and I believe that there will only be one opportunity to get it right.

A successful SRA would be one of the key elements of Vision 2030 going forward, so let’s not mess it up by making a forward pass in front of the try line.

 SRA Levy Structure

The principal beneficiaries of a successful SRA and Vision 2030 would be both the property owners and the business interests (permanent and seasonal), located within the SRA.

A transparent and equitable contribution to the SRA Levy would seem to be a prerequisite for success of this initiative.

My understanding of the currently proposed SRA Levy structure is that a significant number of these beneficiaries would not be liable to contribute to the SRA Levy, although they undoubtedly would reap the benefits.

Property owners on individual stands would be liable – however I understand that Estate developments and their residents (e.g. Links, Homestead, Airpark, Royal Wharf, River Glades, etc.) will only be requested to contribute, and that they will be able to decide at their sole discretion whether they will contribute, and if so, how much.

All businesses within the SRA (both those situated on Industrial/Commercial property, and those of a more informal/seasonal nature like B&B’s, Billy’s Beach, etc.) will benefit, and to a much greater extent than individual property owners. The normal property rates paid on Industrial/Commercial property within Kouga Municipality are an anomaly, in that they are only 4% more than ordinary residential property. The national norm for this type of property seems to be in the order of 200+% more than residential. Acknowledging that an increase in property ratings for all Industrial/Commercial properties within Kouga would be unjustified and politically impossible, within the SRA it would still be possible to increase ratings for these classes of property when establishing the SRA and formulating the new by-law that would be required.

An example of the rating structures implemented in Richmond Hill SRA, Nelson Mandela Bay, can be found at:

A more equitable levy structure with an enlarged contributor base would be beneficial to the initiative, and should also lead to a reduction in the proposed 50% additional levy rate, and an increase in the acceptability of the initiative by the local community.

Voting Process

The voting process currently underway does not appear to be in accordance with a legal requirement of the Municipal Property Rates Act, 2004 (Act No. 6 of 2004), which is to obtain the approval of a majority of the ‘local community’; ref.:

The process appears to exclude anyone other than individual ratepayers/property owners; this is clearly not in accordance with the requirements of the Act to include also residents, civic organisations, NGO’s, visitors and disadvantaged communities:

The voting methodology does not appear to have a rigorous verification procedure.

The option of recording a “NO” vote on the ballot form is meaningless, apart from possibly providing a partial gauge as to objections to the initiative. A “NO” vote does not cancel a “YES” vote.

The voting form does not define, or limit, the size of the proposed levy – and who knows what politicians will do in the future.

I suggest that these deficiencies could, and most probably will, lead to a successful challenge in the courts.”

Worth reading

Here is an old article (2913) that is worth reading

Special rating areas boost values and security