Fight the charges

Rodney Manicom, Tokai

I would urge all ratepayers to support the challenge by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) to the drought charge, which punishes the homeowner for good behaviour. There are compelling reasons why the drought charge is wrong:

* There is complete disregard for the “user pays” principal.

* The charge is not fair and equitable, as it is not spread equally among homeowners of Cape Town.

* It makes the assumption that higher value homes are larger, on bigger plots and use more water.

* The drought charge does not encourage good behaviour; in fact, it encourages quite the opposite – why would residents save water if they are being penalised with higher water charges despite their saving efforts?

* There is now a situation where some households with higher usage that have not cut consumption will be paying less for water than those that have.

* The proposed charge amounts to nothing more than an interim rates increase which is more than double the inflation rate.

* By council’s own admission the charge is nothing more than an additional charge to recover lost income due to lower water revenue.

* The time period given to comment is very short and covers the festive season and year-end holidays when people are distracted and some are away from Cape Town.

For too long the City of Cape Town has regarded ratepayers, whose rates and charges have increased steadily above the inflation rate for many years, as a soft target and have shown their true colours by advertising for “comment” during the festive period and school holidays when many families are away. This is simply underhanded.

The City of Cape Town may think they have a mandate from the people but biting the hand that feeds them will come back to haunt in the next municipal election.