The purpose of this circular is to inform Hilton Ratepayers of the initiative which the HRA is taking with the intention of establishing a Special Rating Area (SRA).
What is an SRA?
It is a defined area within a Municipality where, following a referendum, the ratepayers agree to establish an SRA. The boundaries of the SRA do not have to coincide with Ward boundaries. A simple majority of all ratepayers voting to support the establishment of the SRA is necessary in order for it to be declared.
Why do we need an SRA?
An SRA will allow the community to identify and support projects in our area. We will all contribute a relatively modest amount on a monthly basis, providing an assured source of income to finance the projects the community prioritises.
What will it cost, and who runs the SRA?
The SRA receives its finances through a levy on rates, which the Municipality collects and pays over to the SRA. This extra levy (possibly between 2 and 5 percent of rates) is managed by a Section 21 Company which is elected by the ratepayers and answerable to them. The Municipality is represented on the Board of the SRA.
What will the SRA do?
This will depend on the wishes of the ratepayers. It is not intended that the SA carry out functions one would normally expect from the Municipality. The vision is that the SRA will function by providing extras that will make Hilton a safer and even more desirable place in which to live and work. Security would be an important function, but there are many other ideas we can explore. These could include the introduction of cycle tracks, improving the pavements and sidewalks, managing the verges, and upgrading taxi ranks and transport infrastructure. The process of engaging the community will identify the priorities.
What the SRA is not.
It is not intended to be a Municipality within a Municipality. The Municipality is represented on the SRA Board and is also required to approve the annual budget.
Are there SRAs elsewhere?
Yes. The reader is invited to Google “SRAs”. There are numerous examples in KZN and elsewhere, mainly in the Western Cape where the reader will get a good overall view of what they can accomplish. SRAs are provided for in legislation, and National Treasury has set guidelines for their establishment. Hilton is ideally suited to establishing an SRA.
What has been done so far?
The Hilton Ratepayers’ Association has received pro-bono legal assistance and prepared a draft policy document as well as the draft by-law. These are essentially copy and paste documents from other jurisdictions, so we are not entering new territory. The draft documents have been lodged with the Municipality and we hope they will be approved by the end of the year. They will provide the legal framework that will enable us to proceed.
What happens after this?
A period of consultation with the Hilton community starts with the following objectives:
- Identifying the area to be covered by the SRA
- Public consultations and meetings
- A referendum
Should the majority of residents in the designated area decide against the SRA, then that is the end of the matter.
If, however, they vote in favour of the SRA, the next steps would be:
- Elect persons to serve on the Board of the Section 21 Company
- Draw up a budget that reflects the wishes of the community.
This is the first circular in this regard, and the HRA will ensure that all ratepayers are kept informed of progress. We would welcome any feedback.
Kind regards and keep well,