More than 200 property owners in Onrus and Vermont gathered at the Dutch Reformed Church in Onrus on Thursday evening, 26 September for a public meeting to inform residents of the details and procedures involved in the application to have Onrus-Vermont declared a special ratings area (SRA).

As an introduction to the step-by-step presentation, Abner Inghels, chair of the Onrus-Vermont SRA Steering Committee, used the analogy of a medical aid, which ensures that members have access to important medical services. In the same way, he said, SRAs are a way of supplementing and improving important municipal services to ensure that our neighbourhoods provide residents and visitors with a sustainable, healthy, clean and safe living environment.

SRAs have been successfully established in several municipalities, including Cape Town and Stellenbosch.

The proposal for an SRA for Onrus-Vermont was initiated by members of the community three and a half years ago. A steering committee was established, comprising representatives of all the active community organisations, such as OnVerWag Neighbourhood Watch, Hermanus CPF, Onrus Ratepayers Association, Ward 13 Committee, Vermont Ratepayers & Environmental Association, Onrus Estuary Forum, Vermont Conservation Trust and Vermont Coastal Path Committee.

The objective of the Onrus Vermont SRA (OVSRA) is to ensure greater public safety by providing monitoring of all access and major routes throughout the ward. This will cover Ward 13 from the Onrus Main Road intersection to Lynx Road in Vermont, as well as entrances for foot traffic at the beach in Onrus and Brekfis Bay. This will assist in the on-going promotion of community involvement in the initiatives of the Overstrand Municipality to execute the goals of the IDP; as well as the monitoring of problem areas in order to prevent social decay and crime, and reporting them to the relevant authorities.

Abner said the findings of a Perception Survey that was launched between September and November 2017 have helped the SRA Committee to identify problems and highlight the priorities that will be addressed by the SRA. The main projects will include the CCTV Project, with additional cameras and monitoring, a dedicated 24-hour vehicle with security officers as well as two patrollers on foot, additional refuse removal, hacking and clean-up operations, and ad hoc lifeguards on Onrus Beach during peak holiday periods and long weekends.

“It has taken us three and a half years to get to where we are now,” said Abner. “This is due to all the municipal processes we’ve had to go through with seven different departments.”

There are currently 4 188 erven in Onrus and Vermont, including Berghof and Chanteclair (now Onrus North). Everyone will share in a fair way to formalise the funding needed, as set out in the proposed budget prepared by the Steering Committee and submitted to the municipality. According to the Municipal Property Rates Act, the levy has to be a percentage of the value of each property – and not a fixed amount.

The additional monthly levy for the Onrus Vermont Special Rating Area (OVSRA) will be determined by each property’s municipal valuation and will amount to a tariff of 0.00035 times the valuation per annum.

For example, on a vacant erf with a municipal valuation of between R600 000 and R1 million, the additional levy will be between R17.50 and R29.17; on a residential property with a municipal valuation of between R1 million and R1.5 million the additional levy will be between R22 and R33.67 per month; and for properties valued at between R1.5 million and R3 million, the monthly levy will amount to between R33.67 and R68.67.

The next step following the public meeting is the two-month voting period, which is now open and will close on 29 November. All property owners in Onrus and Vermont can vote, whether they live permanently in the area or not, and those who own more than one property can have more than one vote. If your property is in a trust or business name you will need a letter confirming that you are the legally authorised person to vote for this property. Both hard copy voting and electronic voting are allowed.

After voting has been completed, the results will be independently audited. A successful outcome in order to proceed with the establishment of the OVSRA would be 50% + 1 (and not the 60% +1 which was applicable before). If a majority vote is achieved, the steering committee will submit the application to the municipality, which will reach a decision at the council meeting on 28 February 2020.

Once the municipality has approved the application, a separate Non-Profit Company (NPC) will be set up with an approved five-year business and operational plan, managed by a board elected by its members, and operated by a management team appointed by the board. Services will be put out to tender and Abner stressed that the OVSRA will be an apolitical organisation. All directors will be volunteers selected from the community and only the operational manager and employees will be paid. The NPC’s five-year cycle means that it will be reviewed every five years.

“The idea is for the SRA to be operational by December 2020,” said Abner.

The presentation made at the public meeting can be viewed at www.onsdorp.com/onrusvermontsra/index.html

Online voting can be done by following the link: www.surveymonkey.com/r/B7JKKGH

For more information, contact 079 680 7232 or onrus.vermont.sra@gmail.com or follow the Facebook page www.facebook.com/OVSRA/

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