‘Balance the interest of gov’t with citizens’ capacity to pay’


    ANGELES CITY – A majority vote in the city council has drowned out the opposition in the enactment of the Real
    Property Tax (RPT) increase last Tuesday.

    Councilor Brian Nepomuceno argued that “there should always be a balance to the interest of the government
    and the capacity to pay of the citizens and the burden on them.” He said the increase n RPT should only be
    limited to what is actually  needed by the government in attaining its budget.

    Nepomuceno said if the collection for RPT for this year is around P95 million and the city’s target for next year is P160 million which is only an increase of about 50 percent in collection, “we will be able to reach that target and even exceed it” if the increase is confi ned to that level.

    “There is no need to increase it further to burden the taxpayers more than they need to in order to achieve their target,” he stressed. “After three years we will review it again and if the target for RPT has increased then we can increase again the rate but at this time we should not impose a burden more than what is needed at the moment,” he added.

    Nepomuceno said at the onset, their objection is to the procedure. He cited the adoption of the committee hearing report which was railroaded by the majority in the city council. He said when it was proposed to be adopted, opposition Councilor Max Sangil stood up to question its adoption.

    Based on proper procedure on the internal rules in the city council, the final deliberation should include the proposed recommendations as well as the points of the minority which would be voted upon. But that never happened, Nepomuceno said.

    “After the Technical Working Group (TWG) adjourned, the next step was already the preparation of the committee
    report which was only transmitted to the members of the city council on the day of the session,” he said.

    “We were not able to raise our objections,” he said. “When the motion was submitted to the presiding officer or to the vice mayor to rule upon it, she denied the objections which resulted into the adoption of the committee report,” he explained.

    But Nepomuceno reserved some gratitude to Vice Mayor Vicky Cabigting. During the same session, the increase in valuation was also in the agenda, he said, “and most of our proposals to soften the blow to the increase or the impact were accepted.”

    These were the proposals also made by the minority in the public hearing which included the reduction of the increase in the unit value for residential and commercial classifications. Nepomuceno said for residential, which was the last point of contention, the private sector represented by the TWG asked that a 175 percent across the board increase should be the maximum.

    But he said the administration is adamant in a 200 percent minimum increase which was not acceptable to
    the private sector. The Metro Angeles Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (MACCII) initially wanted a ceiling of 150 percent for residential but agreed to a 175 percent as a compromise.

    The 25 percent difference has a big impact on the tax payers, he said. But the ordinance still embodied a 200 percent increase, he added. For commercial, a 125 percent across the board increase was agreed without contention in all sub-classification and this is now what is embodied in the ordinance, Nepomuceno said.

    The final version of the ordinance also provides for a 135 percent increase in industrial and 150 percent increase agricultural but this was even out in an assessment level, he said. Nepomuceno explained that they have proposed a stripping method which means only the first 20 meters in front will be subjected to a full tax rate and the next 20 meters to 80 percent and the next to 60 percent until it comes to level at 40 percent.

    He said most agricultural lands are not yet subdivided and that means only the productive sections will be subjected to a full tax rate. He said to lessen the impact of the ordinance, the minority proposed that the increase will only take effect if the notice of assessment increase are served on the registered owners before Jan. 1, 2014 but if they fail to serve the notice before Jan. 1, 2014 then the increase will only apply on Jan. 1 2015 which is provided for in the Local Government Code.

    Nepomuceno said the ordinance also provides that increase in the assessment rate of buildings is around 30 to 50 percent per unit price of buildings and will only be applicable by Jan. 1, 2015.


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