GIS mapping for property tax assessment

Kochi Corporation’s liability stands at ₹243.28 crore, says statement

Published - February 19, 2021 11:45 pm IST - KOCHI

The Kochi Corporation will invite a tender for GIS mapping of the buildings in the city for a complete and accurate assessment of property tax owed to the local body.

“The property tax estimates are determined on the basis of the bill collectors’ handbooks. The estimates need to be clarified and a proper assessment done using a GIS-based system followed by verification on the ground,” Mayor M. Anilkumar said at a special council meeting convened on Friday to discuss the civic agency’s financial situation before the budget is presented on Saturday.

Opposition councillors shot down a proposal to get GIS mapping done by the Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society (ULCCS). The society’s proposal had been presented before the previous council, which had shelved it. Fresh tenders will now be invited to execute the project.

“The property tax demand for the current financial year is at an under-estimated figure of ₹71 crore, including arrears. Tax needs to be assessed systematically based on assessment registers and not the bill collectors’ handbooks,” Mr. Anilkumar said.

Furore in council

Opposition councillors raised a furore at the meeting over a statement of liabilities, accrued over several years, presented before the council. The total liability stands at ₹243.28 crore as per the statement, a figure that the councillors contested. Pending payments include ₹60 crore due to contractors and a whopping ₹119 crore due to the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) for public taps. The charges due to the KWA were grossly over-estimated since the corporation was being charged for more public taps than those in use and the issue would have to be resolved after a joint inspection with the KWA, councillors said. An amount of ₹15.81 crore was listed as land acquisition charges and court decrees. The corporation continues to incur acquisition charges for the land at Brahmapuram. For the corporation’s new under-construction office building, ₹9.12 crore is pending to the contractor as per a court decree, according to the statement presented in the council. The contractor had gone to court demanding payment for elements that had been excluded from the cost estimate for the building, said UDF councillor V. K. Minimol.

“The statement presented to the council made no mention of the amount owed to the corporation as GST compensation. The statement appears to be an attempt to indicate that these liabilities were a creation of the past councils,” said Opposition leader Antony Kureethara.

With councillors being sceptical about the total liability, the figures will be examined by the Finance Standing Committee.

The council will at the next meeting, consider charges on hoardings in city limits, to increase its revenue. “For the past three years, the corporation has not levied any charges on hoardings,” Mr. Anilkumar said.

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