Eighty-percent of properties in Freetown to pay Le500,000 or less rates – says mayor

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Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 June 2020:

Mayor of Freetown – Yvonne Aki Sawyerr on Monday, engaged a cross section of the city’s Krio Community, including the representative Krio Descendants Union, “to address concerns and provide clarification about Freetown City Council’s (FCC) property rates and business license reform,” a council official reported.

During the three hour discussion, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr explained to the group that FCC’s property rates reform is a fundamental change in the basis of valuing properties which resulted in some property rates increasing whilst many others decreased.

She showed data confirming that the annual property rates for 80% of all properties in Freetown will still be Le500,000 or less with the new system, which amounts to about Le42,000 per month that can be paid in monthly instalments.

(Photo: Mayor of Freetown – Yvonne Aki Sawyerr on Monday, engaged a cross section of the city’s Krio Community)

With the property rates system not having been reviewed for decades, FCC has not been able to effectively deliver the services its residents want, from maintenance of our 11 cemeteries to provision of adequate numbers of sanitary inspectors and much more.

Also discussed at the meeting was the need for the council to consider a slightly lower rates band for pensioners and those with “extenuating circumstances”.

The council is currently looking at extending this year’s rate payment due date, and a public notice will be issued shortly.

According to the council, “the meeting was very constructive with those attending confirming that they now have a better understanding of the property rate reform and were supportive of it.”

“FCC will continue to engage all Freetonians to ensure that misconceptions about the new system are clarified. There is an enquiries and appeals desk at FCC, and residents are encouraged to call 078333000, 088333000 or 034333000 if they have any questions or concerns about their property rates or business licenses.”

Writing on social media, Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyer said she was: “Thrilled to find Freetonians waiting to pay property rates at Freetown City Council this morning! Thanks so much for your commitment. FACT: property rates for 80% of residents are still less than Le500,000 per year, that’s Le42,000 per month to transform Freetown. These payments will allow FCC to improve service delivery and to deliver additional services we simply couldn’t deliver before.

“Property rate demand notices for 2020 are being issued now. PAYMENT IS NOT DUE NOW. Payment is for the year to 31st December 2020. In recognition of the challenges posed by COVID-19, FCC reduced the late payment penalty from last year’s 15% to 5% this year and pushed the payment due date to 30th September 2020. Monthly payments can be made by property rate payers over the course of the year.

“FCC has reformed the Freetown property rate system to make it fairer. Some property rates have gone up, but other property rates have gone down. The property rate reform, like all major system changes, will have teething problems. FCC is actively listening to the concerns of Freetonians and will respond with clarifications and potential adjustments. We can do this together!”

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Abu Bakarr Tarawally is a Journalist based in Freetown. He works for the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer. He has once served as Editor for a few newspapers in Freetown, including Sierra Express Media, The Exclusive Newspaper and his own newspaper, the Daily Express Publications. He is a teacher trainer, and loves writing and reading a lot. Email: abstarawally@gmail.com. Call +232 88601277 or +2327661303.

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