Council junks Jimenez resolution asking Celso's position on real estate tax hike PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 November 2010 10:52

The City Council yesterday rejected Councilor Cesar Jimenez Jr.'s resolution requesting Mayor Celso Lobregat to explain and present his position, opinion or views relative to the proposed ordinance prescribing the schedule of fair market value for different kinds of lands, structures and improvements in the city, for the general revision of the real property assessments.

Only Councilor Melchor Rey Sadain sided with Jimenez and  Councilor Rodolfo Bayot’s vote went to the majority. Two of the minority councilors, Jihan Edding and Rommel Agan were out of town on official business.

During deliberation, Councilor Abdurahman Nuño said there is no need yet to adopt Jimenez’s resolution since the matter is still under the Committees on Ways and Means chaired by Councilor Benjamin "Nonong" Guingona III and Ordinances and Resolutions of Councilor Rudy Lim.

A series of public hearings has been scheduled but the joint committees have already conducted two which were attended by invited stakeholders like the Zamboanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation under president Pocholo Soliven.

As per computation by the City Assessor’s Office, payment for real property tax might increase up to 600% after the re-evaluation process which will come later as provided for under the Local Government Code.

However, such proposed increase has been opposed by several organizations including that of the agricultural sector saying that the proposal is unconscionable and outrageous.

But in the second public hearing held Tuesday, the invited groups suggested that an increase of 50% might be feasible at this time due to the unstable economic situation of the city.

Councilor Guingona said the group had even asked for a moratorium but if the increase is really necessary, 50% is suitable provided that it should be implemented in staggered basis of 10% a year for five years.

Guingona said that all of these suggestions were seriously considered by the committees but more consultations are needed so as to really come up with a so-called “win-win” solution.

“We are taking note of their suggestions. Anyway, the proposal was introduced by the assessor’s office but the final say would still come from the City Council. Definitely, an increase must be imposed. As to what percentage, it remains to be seen,” Guingona said.

Councilor Jimenez expressed belief that the proposed ordinance was initiated by City Hall itself considering Mayor Lobregat, in his letter to the Council’s presiding officer certified the ordinance as urgent.

Because of the growing number of opposition, Jimenez said “it is imperative that the highest elected local official of the city government should explain and present his position and opinion on the matter and in the spirit of transparency and accountability, his opinion, views and position must be made formal and known to the public.”

By Jimmy Villaflores