THE Chitungwiza Municipality allegedly unfairly obtained thousands of dollars from businesses through a faulty billing system that inflated rates, property taxes and licence fees over the past six months.
The scandal was unearthed when businesses raised the alarm after receiving monthly bills with “extortionate” fixed water charges.
The council has since acknowledged the anomalies. Businesses were reportedly paying US$84,16 monthly in fixed water charges, instead of the US$43,27 stipulated in the 2023 budget.
Chitungwiza Municipality spokesperson Mr Lovemore Meya said council would reimburse businesses that were affected.
“On water charges, we have realised that there was an error in billing and we have since rectified it by crediting each account with the overcharged figure, that is, for five months between February 2023 and June 2023,” he said.
The local authority, he said, was engaging the local business community over the matter.
“The outcome was that we wrote to them on July 17 following their request (for clarification) and our response was that all licences, rates and taxes will remain unchanged as per our approved 2023 council budget. As a local authority, we abide by legal statutes which govern shop licensing, and we, therefore, cannot change the stipulated licence fees.
“On the issue of property tax, it is based on the general valuation roll. As such, we are going to carry out a survey on the issue and the results will be communicated to the business community,” he added.
Chitungwiza Business Community Trust chairperson Mr Tendai Mareya said they had to raise the issue with the council after being inundated with complaints from businesses. – Sunday Mail