Over Le208m collected as property rates in Bo District


February 22, 2019

By Joseph S. Margai

Valuation Officer: James Ndalona Squire hopes to improve on compliance rate in the payment of property rate

Valuation Officer of Bo District Council, James Ndalona Squire, has disclosed in an interview last Wednesday (20th February, 2019) that in 2018, they collected 208,215,119 Leones as property rates within the district.

Squire, who was speaking in his office in Bo town, said property rate constitutes the greater part of the council’s own-sourced revenue, even though he said the collection rate in 2018 was very small to implement tangible developments in the various communities.

The current property rate collection has been outsourced to a Credit Recovery Agency in the council and Squire noted that the decision was taken because there was a low compliance rate.

He said even though it was outsourced, the collection rate continues to deteriorate on yearly basis, recalling that it was so high in its early stages.

Asked how they assess a particular structure to ascertain what amount of rate could be paid, he said they do a point-based valuation, which according to him, they look at key features of that premises.

“We have an automated system and once we input the key features, it will generate the cost of a particular premise. After which, we bill people by giving them rate demand notice. On this document, there is a footnote telling the owner to pay property rate within three months,” he explained, and noted that the property owner has the privilege to come to the council and negotiate and pay to the bank afterwards.

He disclosed that most times, after negotiation, the property owner would pay the rate in three instalments, although some property owner could pay at once.

He said the total money collected as property rates is so small because they are dealing with properties that are in rural communities outside Bo city, which is controlled and governed by Bo City Council.

“In Bo city, there are big structures and improved premises that could generate revenue for the council. But for us in the district council, some of the houses do not have such qualities to attract high property rates,” he stated.

Squire noted that they face serious challenges in collecting property rates because property owners have been grumbling that, having paid their property rates, they were not seeing tangible development in their communities.

“But the reality is that some of these rates collected in some communities could not be enough to facilitate tangible development. I am not saying we are not doing anything but we do things according to one community’s needs to another. For example, if we collect 10 million Leones in a particular community, what will that do in that community? What we do is to put those monies together and select the vulnerable communities that are in need of certain development,” he explained.

However, he said, development is not only about tangible things, noting that the council has been paying fees for untrained and unqualified (UU) teachers in teacher training colleges, buying school materials for children, among other things.

He said after graduation, those UU teachers would go back to those communities to impart knowledge in the kids, adding that human capital development is very crucial for rural communities and Bo District Council has been taking a lead in that.