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​Much work has been done to resolve billing issues plaguing Joburg, but several issues still concern the mayor, such as call centre response times.
THE progress made by the City’s revenue and customer relations management department in resolving billing issues was reviewed at a meeting held at Thuso House in Braamfontein.

Assistant director: Customer Services Centre Gavin Machete shows executive mayor Parks Tau around Thuso House (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Gavin Machete assistant director: Customer Services Centre shows executive mayor Parks Tau and MMC Geoff Makhubo around Thuso House (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)The meeting, held yesterday, was attended by Executive Mayor Parks Tau, who was accompanied by the member of the mayoral committee for finance, Geoffrey Makhubu. Before the meeting, Tau and his delegation toured the customer relations and revenue departments and spoke to the managers about some of the projects.

This was followed by a presentation on the state of the department by the City’s director of finance management support, Setlabli Leso. Leso told the mayor that an intensive programme was under way to resolve all backlogs on queries regarding change of ownership of properties.

“The City has appointed an additional 40 people in the back office and an additional 15 in the rates and taxes directorate to deal with all outstanding customer queries.”

He added that the land information systems (LIS) street addresses and all records of supplementary valuations had been handed over to the valuation department to facilitate the compilation of a complete register. About 2 066 freehold properties which had not yet been valued were registered on the LIS by the end of February. Of these, 215 were less than 30 days, 354 were between 30 and 60 days and 1 497 were more than 60 days old.

“As part of the data purification we have also embarked upon an investigation of properties which have a zero value,” said Leso. Zero value properties are stands that are fully developed with a sectional title scheme.

Leso encouraged the City to adopt mechanisms that would ensure sustainable and resilient finances. “Through effective management of the City’s finances, revenue and liquidity, the course will be changed and financial sustainability will be achieved.”

He added that a sound financial management environment could be achieved by collecting from alternative revenue streams to build the City’s cash reserve. “Financial sustainability is dependent on the ability to collect taxes and service charges fairly,” said Leso.

Urban migration had resulted in an increasing need for infrastructure. “The City’s financial capacity to provide the infrastructure and services required for economic development therefore depends on a process of continual assessment of the operational and financial performance of the City,” said Leso.

He noted that R80-billion was needed to maintain the City’s infrastructure. Electricity, lands, roads and public transport were areas that were in large need of finance.

At the meeting, Tau indicated that the call centre’s slow response to billing queries could be improved. He also expressed concern about house owners who were failing to get their clearance certificates in time to sell their homes. “We have owners who are stranded with houses that they can sell and I think this is a sad state affairs for a prestigious city like Joburg.”

He also stressed the urgent need to register townships that were not on the billing systems. Other issues that were raised at the meeting included a slow response to billing queries, exorbitant billing amounts, deeds transfers that were not updated on the billing system and incorrect stand and physical addresses.

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