Property taxes to rise by R142m

From next month ratepayers in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, will cough up a whooping R142million extra in property taxes.

In a move that could see many shops closing down, business owners will pay an average of 300 percent to 1000 percent more in property rates.

But the municipality has justified the increases, saying the goals of the budget were aligned with provincial and national budgets to accelerate growth and create jobs.

The 2009-10 budget, which is set at R2billion, has been adopted. A total of R66million of this will go towards 2010 projects.

The revenue to be generated from property rates for the 2008-9 financial year is R160million, while R302,5million will be generated in 2009-10 with the proposed tariff structure and new valuation roll.

The DA in Mbombela says businesses would be hardest hit.

"Many businesses, especially smaller ones that can't cope with this increase, will be forced to close down," said Gerhard de Bruin, DA councillor in the municipality.

He said despite their objection to the rates increase, the first in 15 years, they failed to carry the day after garnering fewer votes against the hike.

Meanwhile, the Mbombela Ratepayers Association said it would seek legal advice to enforce the rights of ratepayers, which it claims have been violated.