Mayor of the Freetown City Council, Yvonne Aki Sawyer says in Freetown that the council will focus on recouping debts owed in the tune of 35 billion Leones being arrears for property rates.
The FCC’s revenue boosting plans, according the Mayor, include improving the local tax compliance rate and increasing paid-for parking in the Central Business District.
Around 90% of the FCC’s own-source revenues are generated from property rates, license fees, local tax, market dues and lease rent. Of them all, local tax has the lowest compliance rate over the years- despite it over Le 2.5bn potential revenue.
Tax payers have been lethargic in recent years in terms of compliance blaming the lack of accountability by past regimes that manned the council finances. Mayor Aki-Sawyer, in marking her 100 one hundred days in office, is particularly interested in making sure that revenue mobilization becomes key in her administration.
She said: “Finances impact heavily on the council’s ability to deliver service to the people of Freetown. While we work on medium and longer term strategies to increase our capacity to generate more money, these quick wins could generate Le1-2bn from arrears, plus up to 1bn from local tax and an additional 1bn from parking.
“It can be hard for people to feel motivated to pay their rates and taxes, when they do not see service delivery improve. Nevertheless, we need Freetown’s residents to realise how important it is that they support this strand of our transformation strategy, if we are to achieve any sustainable change.”
FCC staff and Metropolitan Police are currently on the streets, conducting ward-by-ward collection drives for local tax, license fees, property rates and billboard fees.
The council is working with large employers to deduct local tax at source, telecoms providers to enable local tax payment using mobile money, and Statistics Sierra Leone for data on households and businesses across the city.
Section 57(b) of the Local Government Act 2004 stipulates that local councils shall charge fees for car parks. FCC Street Parking Unit currently sells parking bays to businesses located in the CBD for an annual subscription fee of Le 2.1mn per year.