In the past weeks, both Onrus-Vermont and Hermanus have received the required 50% plus one votes to each establish a Special Rating Area (SRA) in the Overstrand.

Along with Kleinmond, which achieved this threshold last year, three new SRAs will, barring any unforeseen circumstances, start operating from the third quarter of this year, once the next municipal financial year begins and the new levies can be collected.

For the residents of these areas who voted in favour of establishing SRAs, this is great news. The additional levies will facilitate the effective monitoring and reporting to the municipal authorities and the SAPS on matters relating to safety and security, as well as assisting in maintaining a healthy and clean environment. SRAs will also send a clear and reassuring message to tourists and visitors. This can only be good for business, job creation, property values and general peace of mind.

But the SRA process demonstrates something fundamentally even more important: When the government creates an enabling environment, ordinary citizens will rise to the occasion, band together and take advantage of the opportunity for the betterment of themselves and their fellow citizens.

In this case, along with Section 22 of the national Municipal Property Rates Act of 2004, the Overstrand Municipality Special Rating Area By-law (2016) and Policy (2019) created the framework for teams of volunteers to start the process of establishing SRAs in a democratic and orderly fashion.

Let’s hope that other wards in the Overstrand will take advantage of this opportunity and also establish SRAs so that we can create a seamless security blanket that envelopes all our residents.

But equally, let us use SRAs as an example to spur on our elected representatives to pass enabling legislation at the municipal level that will drive investment and positive action.

So often, as citizens, we feel powerless to effect the change that we would like to see. But the SRAs have shown that when governments create the environment, residents will build on it.

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