The SRA Levy will be appearing on the Kouga Municipality’s utility bills for those rate payers within the demarcated area with effect from July 2018. Over the next few weeks we will be publishing brief newsletters to answer some of the questions which are being asked.
The second in our series of responses to frequently asked questions on the SRA Levy deals with exemption or relief.
The St Francis Property Owners Association (SFPO) is aware of the financial constraints that some of our ratepayers face in coping with the everyday demands on their income. During the 2017 voting period, where we were asking St Francis property owners to vote in favour of a 50% SRA Levy, we lobbied for our Municipality to grant exemptions to those who genuinely could not afford to pay and also to the many undeveloped plots (where the owners did not live on this land, nor use our roads and beaches). However, given the fact that the Municipality’s legal advisors did not believe that the exemptions proposed could be supported by the legislation, we had to start our SRA process again.
This second time round we were able to reduce the levy to 25% of rates by securing additional funding from other sources, reducing the scope of the proposed projects, and we were given assurances by many property owners that this was a more affordable levy. We also reduced the demarcated area to the Canal and Village properties, as we were only able to get a low percentage of the Santareme-Otters Landing property owners to vote. Only 19% of all property owners in the Santareme-Otters Landing areas voted in 2017. Furthermore, the money we would have collected from these areas would barely cover the cost of fixing their roads and installing CCTV cameras, with very little contribution to our largest and highest priority project i.e. the restoration of the beach, spit and river, and so we believed it would benefit the town to move ahead with the support of the Canal and Village properties. We proposed this to all property owners at our public meetings between 20 December 2017 and 11 January 2018 at The Links.
This necessitated a second round of voting following the presentation of our 25% of rates SRA levy with the request for all property owners in the Canals and Village to submit their votes starting in early January 2018. This was explained at the three public meetings we held during December and January, as well as our newsletters and on our website.
Rates and SRA Levy Relief options
There are two possible options :
- Service Rebate
The only form of relief presently available from the Kouga Municipality is through the Application for Service Rebate. To qualify for this rebate applicants need to be able to prove the total household income is not more than R3600 per month.
- SRA Levy Relief Programme
For those who do not qualify for the above, we recommend that they apply for assistance from the SRA Levy Relief Programme. This programme is being set up to assist those who qualify for assistance and will depend on people being willing to donate money to this fund, and the organisation of events to raise money for this fund. To apply for relief from this fund applicants will need to complete an application form and submit it with the requested documentation for confidential consideration by an impartial panel of three people from respected and impartial organisations. We would need to satisfy our donors that their money will only go to those people who qualify for this relief.
These application forms are available in hard copy from both our office at 115 St Francis Drive, between 08h30 and 13h00 on weekdays and from the St Francis United Church office during the same hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays mornings. Applications should be returned to either office in a sealed envelope marked Private and Confidential after which the applicant will be contacted by the review panel.