St Francis Property Owners put forward a propesal to those needing assistance with then SRA levy
Few will not have noticed how a trip to your favourite supermarket has you either leaving with a lighter packet of groceries or a lighter wallet. A visit to the petrol station has you shuddering with fear that the balance on your bank card won’t cover the cost of filling your tank and even if it does, you are going to give up something to balance the budget. Everyone, well most of us, are feeling the pinch of rising costs fuelled even more with the highest fuel costs in history, and expected to rise more.
July also heralds the start of a new financial year for Kouga Municipality with a budget in better shape than that they inherited two years ago. Many will have read the basic budget expenditure outlined in The Kouga Budget – How the money will be spent published three weeks back. Reading through that budget there is little doubt that the council will be committing significant funds to bettering lives in the informal settlements particularly in terms of sewerage (bucket system), electrification (illegal connections) and to improve water security as our drought worsens almost daily.
The new budget also means an increase in municipal rates and services and although these increases are in line with inflation they do require budget adjustments for most. But there is a new charge that will be added to Property Owners in a demarcated area of St Francis Bay, the SRA levy.
There are those who were (are) vehemently opposed to this levy but the majority of residents have shown their support in the realisation that the only the help St Francis is going to get in improving the town is if it helps itself. Certainly it will mean a slight adjustment to most budgets more so for some,
But there are those who are simply too financially stressed to even make the smallest adjustments. Pensioners on a fixed or limited pension, some on Social Service grants simply cannot afford this added cost to their already overstretched funds.
There are municipalities, Johannesburg and Cape Town amongst others, that offer reduced rates to pensioners on prescribed formulas and whilst SFPO did approach Kouga council to see if such could be considered, it seems the municipality simply does not have systems in place to administer such a process. Understandably it would require software changes to their billing system and huge changes in administration as it would have to be applied to the entire municipality not just St Francis Bay.
But help is at hand
From the outset, SFPO cognisant of realities the proposed SRA levy would have on some of the property owners already surviving on fixed or declining incomes did propose how those who could not afford the levy could be assisted when the SRA received approval. Formulas were published in early documentation but until the levy was adopted by council, little could be done to address the situation. In the past weeks the SFPO committee has been in consultation with others to find a way forward for those who genuinely cannot afford the proposed levy.
Rather than St Francis Today going into detail of how this assistance will work we rather refer you to the documentation on the St Francis Property Owners website which sets out exactly how those in need of relief can go about applying for assistance. It is important to note that whatever assistance property owners may get, it does not absolve them from paying the levy. Non-payment could result in electricity or other services being suspended.
Hopefully those who are so vehement in their opposition and who may be considering litigation to halt the SRA will see sense in what SFPO is proposing and rather than filling the pockets of the legal fraternity that will be of no benefit to St Francis no matter who should win such a battle, would rather contribute to the proposed fund that SFPO is suggesting as a way forward. St Francis is an amazingly generous community as any local charity will attest to and will no doubt be only too supportive of those who genuinely cannot afford the levy..
READ ALSO – The SRA concept is neither new nor unique to St Francis Read Precinct management: the solution to urban decay