COJ recently purported to open Supplementary Roll 11 to the 2008 General Valuation Roll, for public comment. This roll purports to relate to properties that need to be re-valued for the purposes of the 2008 General Valuation Roll, in respect of the period 1 August 2012 to 30 June 2013.
Section 32 of the Local Government: Municipal Property Rates Act 6 of 2004 provides that a general valuation roll commences "from the start of the financial year following completion of the public inspection period required" and "remains valid for that financial year or for one or more subsequent financial years as the municipality may decide, but in total not for more than four financial years".
The 2008 general valuation roll commenced on 1 July 2008 and ran up until 30 June 2013 (by virtue of the extension of the roll by the MEC for local government for a fifth year as provided for in the Act). The 2013 general valuation roll commenced on 1 July 2013 and will run up until 30 June 2017.
The definition of "effective date" in section 1 of the Act states that the 'effective date' in relation to a supplementary valuation roll is "the date on which the supplementary valuation roll takes effect in terms of section 78(2)(b)". This section states that a supplementary valuation roll takes effect "on the first day of the month following the completion of the public inspection period required for the...roll...and remains valid for the duration of the municipality's current valuation roll". In addition, a supplementary valuation roll will remain valid for the duration of the municipality's current general valuation roll.
According to section 78(3)(a) of the Act, supplementary valuation rolls "must reflect the market value of properties determined in accordance with market conditions that applied as at the date of the valuation determined for the purpose of the municipality's last general valuation".
The notices that COJ are releasing at the moment are dated 13 June 2014, and they indicate that the roll opened for inspection on 25 June 2014, just under a year after the 2008 general valuation roll closed. Furthermore, section 78 of the Act provides that supplementary rolls take effect on the first day of the month following the completion of the public notice period advertising their presence, which means that this roll can only come into effect on 1 October 2014.
According to the wording of the Act, this roll will remain valid for the duration of the 2013 general roll, which is currently in force. Moreover, if one considers that the values in supplementary rolls are meant to reflect the market values that applied at the date of the last general valuation, then the market values on this Supplementary Roll 11 should be as at 1 July 2013 (or perhaps 1 July 2012), which was the date of the last general valuation.
This is, however, problematic, because the COJ's intention appears to be that (purportedly being a supplementary roll to the 2008 general valuation roll) the effective date for the valuation of properties in it, should be the same as for all other properties on the 2008 roll, namely 1 July 2012. This inconsistency has arisen because, it is submitted, the Act does not contemplate or allow for the opening of a supplementary roll to a general valuation roll, after that roll has closed.
Intention of drafters
A plain reading of the words in the Act, and a simple consideration of the consequences of stretching that interpretation, as the COJ is doing, gives one to understand that the intention of the drafters was that supplementary rolls, be 'supplementary' to a current general valuation roll. It is thus submitted that after a general valuation roll terminates (as the 2008 general valuation roll did, on 30 June 2013) a supplementary roll in respect of that general valuation roll, cannot be released, and that the COJ's Supplementary Roll 11 is unauthorised.
To the extent that I am wrong and it is found by a court that a municipality is entitled to open a supplementary roll after the general valuation roll (that it is meant to be 'supplementary' to) has already closed, then I submit that it should be open to a municipality to do so at any time after the closure of a general roll, because to the extent that the Act can be interpreted to allow this at all, there are no restrictions on when such a supplementary roll can be opened.
It would thus be possible for a municipality that received section 78 queries even after the closure of a general roll, to simply open a new supplementary roll to deal with those queries, no matter how much time had passed between the closure of the general valuation roll and the submission of those queries. This is a slippery slope and one must imagine that this was not something that the drafters of the Act would have contemplated the Act would authorise.
Opening a door
To the extent that COJ's Supplementary Roll 11 is lawful (which is disputed), this opens the door to property owners wanting to lodge objections to their properties for the purposes of the 2008 general roll (which closed a year ago) to still do so, by submitting an objection to the Supplementary Roll 11 and by objecting to the fact that such properties are not on that roll. However, this is only open to property owners who submitted a section 78 enquiry at some point up until the Supplementary Roll 11 was released, namely 24 June 2014.
In addition, this would mean that property owners who still have queries in relation to their property values for the purposes of the 2008 general roll can still lodge section 78 queries, and this would oblige the municipality to open a further supplementary roll to deal with those queries. It is submitted that the only logical interpretation of the Act, if it is found that the Act permits the opening of a supplementary roll after the closure of a general roll to which that supplementary roll is meant to be 'supplementary', is that this situation will continue ad infinitum, because this is not limited in the Act at all.
To the extent that I am correct and the Supplementary Roll 11 is not authorised, any changes made according to it would be invalid, and any aggrieved property owner would be entitled to have any such changes set aside in court on the basis of the fact that the entire roll was invalid. In light of the above one wonders as to what the municipality was thinking when it opened this roll in the first place.