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Rate hikes for independent Joburg schools unsustainable: Naisa

03 August 2022 - 17:13
The National Alliance of Independent Schools Associations says the reclassification of private schools as business entities could lead to the closure of many independent schools. Stock photo.
The National Alliance of Independent Schools Associations says the reclassification of private schools as business entities could lead to the closure of many independent schools. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Paylessimages

The National Alliance of Independent Schools Associations (Naisa) is concerned about the unilateral manner in which Johannesburg reclassified independent schools as business entities, effective from July 1.

This means schools will pay about eight times more for rates.

The alliance said the majority of schools it represents are classified as public benefit organisations, are not regarded as businesses and benefit from rates exemptions. Naisa said this assists low- and medium-fee schools to remain affordable.

“The decision by the City of Johannesburg to evaluate schools as businesses does not take this into account and was carried out without public comment."

To demonstrate the increase independent schools face, Naisa said such a school in Soweto, whose rates are R7,000 a month, will now pay R63,799.

Schools can apply for a 25% rebate. However, “Even with a 25% discount on this amount, it is effectively an increase of R40,000.”

Naisa said this is unsustainable and will lead to the closure of many independent schools that play an important role.

“While a court injunction has been sought by AfriForum, Naisa calls on the City of Johannesburg to urgently review the policy decision and requests an immediate consultation with executive mayor Dr Mpho Phalatse to discuss the matter,” it said.

AfriForum has applied to the Johannesburg high court for the reclassification to be set aside. The lobby group and the city agreed last week that the case be heard in October.

AfriForum said following the postponement, the court order issued stipulated that pending the determination of the application, the city will not take any credit control action regarding increased rates in its 2022/23 rates policy in respect of private or public educational institutions before November 1.

Such institutions, including public and private schools, will therefore still be liable for property tax paid in terms of the 2021/22 rates.

However, if they are unable or unwilling to pay the difference between this amount and what is due according to the new rates that apply for the city's 2022/2023 financial year, no action will be taken to enforce the collection of this amount during this period.

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