House owners in Freetown now have new city council rate payment system

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 June 2020:

Freetown City Council has announced that all house owners in the capital Freetown, will soon have their properties reassessed – though many suspect it is a re-valuation exercise that may mean some will pay more and others may pay less.

The council says it is doing this so as to streamline and modernise the house rating system, and put a new corruption free payment system in place that will require house owners to pay their council rates directly into the council’s bank account, rather than go to the council office to make payment.

This is what the Mayor of Freetown – Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr said in a public notice – “ Freetown City Council distribution of property rate demand notice, effective June 11th 2020” – published yesterday:

“Freetown Transformed will be a great city – and we are all looking forward to this. As Mayor I have dedicated myself and the Freetown City Council to the Transform Freetown agenda but in order for Freetown to be transformed, all Freetonians must play their parts.

“One way for Freetonians to help Transform Freetown is by paying their property rates and business licenses. Freetown City Council has completely reformed its property rates and business licences system so that it is fair for everyone.

“ The new system now includes all of Freetown’s 160,000 property and businesses, including dwelling houses, commercial buildings and government buildings – all properties have been geo-mapped. Using this single uniform assessment system, small and lower value buildings are assessed less while larger and more valuable buildings are fairly assessed more. (Photo: Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr).

“Over the next few weeks, owners will be receiving by hand a detailed Rate Demand Notice that explains the uniform system. Payment is not to made in cash to City Council collectors.

“Payment should only be made through the Banks noted on the Rate Demand Notice. This ensures security and transparency, and better service delivery outcomes for Freetown.

“Understanding the impact that COVID-19 has created for Freetonians, Freetown City Council empathizes with our residents, and has decided to extend the property rate payment due date to 30th September 2020 and to reduce the poundage (penalty) for late payment from 15% to 5%.

“Furthermore, if residents make full payment for their 2020 on or before 31st July 2020, they will receive a 5% credit against their 2021 property rate. For those residents who have already made an advance payment towards your 2020 property rate, you will be required to pay the difference if you underpaid, or if you overpaid, you will receive a credit against your 2021 property rate due.

“Freetown City Council will continue to work to improve the lives of Freetonians and to transform Freetown. Property rate and business licence payments will enable us to make our city clean and green, to invest in essential infrastructure like drainage and markets, to improve the conditions in our municipal schools and provide the much-needed upkeep of our cemeteries.

“We thank you for your support and ask that you continue to play your part as we transform Freetown. A help desk has been set up at Freetown City Council so that residents can ask questions and get better clarification on this new process.

“Please call +232 78 333 000 to book an appointment. Additionally, please call +232-78 333 000 +232 88 333 000; and +232 34 333 000 for telephone enquiries or visit us at www.fcc.gov.sl. Let’s work together to Transform Freetown.”

It remains to be seen whether this new property revaluation and rate payment system will generate the much needed cash required by the council to help address some of the deep economic, social and environmental problems facing the city.

And more importantly, the question is whether this new system will reduce the millions of dollars lost every year, due to  high levels of corruption within the council and non-payment of household rates by home owners.

“This change in the way we pay council rate in Freetown is welcomed. If you are in the diaspora and you own a property or in charge of family property, please make sure you contact the city council for the new payment details, so you can now pay directly from abroad without sending the cash to anyone, which very often means that your council rate is not being paid to the council,” a council official told the Sierra Leone Telegraph.

11 Comments

  1. There is ship called Sierra Leone that’s in the middle of very rough seas with waves as high as some mountains, threatening to submerge the ship, and it’s dark everywhere. All those on board are hardly conscious of their breath because they’re tense and acutely afraid. The captain of the ship is at his wits end , his composure is about to snap , considering the nautical miles still to be covered. The darkness strikes even more terror in him. By the looks of things he is much closer to putting out a May Day message, so that in the event of the ship going down rescuers will know the last known position of the vessel.

    Luckily for the ship there’s a crew member whose nerves are made of steel and possesses a brilliant brain. The crew member, in a subtle, insinuating way, is urging the captain to ignore the compass and start navigating to calmer waters visually, using landmarks.

    The crew member here is Yvonne Aki Sawyer, the distinguish Mayor of Freetown. Her latest move to collect property rates is truly exemplary. Without dismissing anyone from their job for corruption, she has instituted a novel idea of collecting property rates. Henceforth The Mayor will know why a fabulous house or an office building is assessed lower than a thatched house. Somebody will have to answer directly for the discrepancy, after which he/she will be shown the door.

    This is what is called leadership. A problem is recognised and moves are made to solve it within the confines of legality and fairness. This is what separates the men and women in leadership from the boys and girls. My word Mayor Sawyer is a woman. President Bio should emulate her and consider her for national office at some point. When you have Yvonne Aki Sawyer in your team you know that even in the dying seconds of a game she will score, and you the manager will take the glory.

  2. Kudos to our beautiful and hard working Mayor of Freetown who decided to put politics aside by collaborating with the opposition party to make Freetown one of the cleanest city in our region. Focusing on taxes is the only way to develop Freetown but in my honest opinion, the amount of taxes I am currently paying for my properties is pittance as compared to the USA. There should also be a mechanism to hold tax breakers accountable just like in the western world which is a very serious crime.

    Even the Le 5,000 local tax that is charged every year is nothing if the Freetown City Council is serious about fulfilling the obligations of the workers and citizens. The good news is most of houses are privately owned as compared to most western countries where mortgages are financed and owned by the banks . Let’s continue to hope and pray for our highly self esteemed Mayor of Freetown so she will continue to succeed. Amen and Ameen.

  3. Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyer has come up with one of the most brilliant ideas on how to Modernize the city of Freetown. I told you my brothers and sisters the Krios are the best when you want to run things smoothly. We country boys should stay in the country side. I know she took a lot of stick from the previous government. My only hope is that she is given the support needed to drive through her programme. This initiative will help raise much needed funds to help with the sanitation emergency facing Freetownians. You just have to drive through kissy Road to see the heap of rubbish dump in the middle of this beautiful and great city. It is not only a health risk for the resident, but for children growing up in the immediate surroundings.

    I hope with the funds raised, the city council will build recycling centres, clear away the gutters, have a designated area for recycling bins to prevent fly tipping. Restore the traffic lights. If you want to know if a country is developed, drive through its major cities and towns. If drivers obey the command of the traffic lights, you know that country is developed or is in the process of developing. fund the local fire service. Set up a special police unit for Freetown only. And clear kroobay, where you see children with pot bellies competing with pigs, trying to make a living out of rubbish dump. Decentralize power away from Freetown to the provinces. At the moment everything that needs doing need the approval of the president. It’s been like that for decades.

    Abolish resident ministers. In their place should be Mayors for every town or city that are accountable to local people’s need. Every locality has its own needs. What the residents of Bo want, can’t be the same for the ones in Kono or any other big town in the country. The way we are governed at the moment, it’s one size fits all mentally. If we have elected mayors, there will be less tribal politics. Instead, the central government should allocate monies to the mayors to augment short falls from local tax revenues. Decentralisation and re-allocation is what we need in our country.

    • “ Abolish resident ministers. In their place should be Mayors for every town or city that are accountable to local people’s need. Every locality has its own needs.”

      Outstanding comments Mr. Abraham Jalloh, keep it up sir. You are truly among the few Sierra Leoneans who have their country at heart, as opposed to majority who have opted to worship political demi-gods and their cultic parties.

    • Thank you my Sierra Leonean brother. Mr Young4na, we should strive to come up with practicable ideas about how to develop our country. I am from the north. At the time of independence my father was an SLPP supporter. He remained so right up till 1978, when Sierra Leone was declared a one party state. So my father experienced his road to Damascus moments and became a diehard supporter of the APC party. At the end of the day the sum total of their rule, was to create the conditions that resulted to the civil. So what did my family gain in supporting these two parties, is loss of family members in the civil. So for me supporting any party that doesn’t bring meaningful change for our country’s peace and security is a fool’s game.

    • “Abolish resident ministers. In their place should be Mayors for every town or city that are accountable to local people’s need.” Abraham Amadu Jalloh.

      Abraham,
      I am not going to make any fuss about your blatant display of ethnic inferiority complex, with the following words: “I told you my brothers and sisters the Krios are the best when you want to run things smoothly. We country boys should stay in the country side. I know she took a lot of stick from the previous government.” These words say a lot more about your state of mind and confused identity than they do about those that you refer to as country men. However, what I am more interested in is your blatant ignorance of Salone civics and governance systems.

      It is imperative that you do your homework before coming to this forum. For a forumite to be oblivious of the fact that Freetown is no longer the only city in Sierra Leone and that Bo, Kenema, Makeni, Koidu and Port Loko are all cities with mayors is an unforgivable sin.

      Here is a list of of the mayors of the provincial cities: Bo City: Harold Logie Tucker (SLPP); Kenema City: Thomas Karimu Baio (SLPP); Makeni City: Sunkarie Kabba-Kamara (APC); Koidu City: Komba Sam (C4C); Port Loko City: Abubakarr Kamara (APC). Wearing the red ronko and a matching red kaftan and unconstructively criticizing the current government is one thing. But having a proper understanding of governance in Sierra Leone is quite a different thing.

  4. Ingenious! The reassessment of properties in Freetown has long been over due – I sincerely hope the criminal, do-nothing, achieve-nothing SLPP government is taking notes on how to be resourceful, creative and innovative. Now here’s a brave, clever and courageous lady that utterly believes in accountability and transparency. Who in their right minds wouldn’t applaud the new, sensible methods and advanced ideas Madam Sawyer is currently proposing for the modernization of the city of Freetown? Those SLPP dummies with huge, protruding, oxygen balloon-sized bellies of course.(lol).

    Bravo lady! I am totally and fully convinced that Freetown is now in practical, nifty and competent hands. My advice to the Mayor is to be vigilant and ensure there are no cracks and loopholes in the new financial system she is currently introducing, that may somehow end up increasing and strengthening the corrupt practices of many shady actors that may still be loyal to the old, underhanded ways of doing things.

    Finally, Madam do your best to adopt an “Hands on Approach” in your style of leadership and management if you seriously wish to see your lofty ideals and proposals flourish, and come admirably to fruition. BE THE ONE TO CALL THE SHOTS – You don’t need human crutches to lean on like inept Maada Bio – the dictator in State House.

    • Mr Joe kamara,this mayors you listed from the provinces how many of them have the resource to improve the lives of their locality? Since independence, I am only going by the records, creole people whenever they are in power they seemed to make a difference. I don’t know how old you are but the best government we ever had since independence was Colonel Andrew Juxon-Smith. Given the time Strasser would have make a difference. You cant be doing the same thing everyday that’s an act of madness. The former mayor of Freetown Alfred Akibo-Betts during his time as mayor made changes. Now with this Mayor. You will agree with me, our country has natural resources and human capital, why in the world do we still ask the IMF for bailout? What has the old APC and SLPP bought as a way of development.

      I am not talking the present ones. The trouble with some of us, we don’t like the truth to be told because it hurts. Now forgive me if you take offence for referring to us as country boys but so far our stewardship haven’t brought us any good. I like constructive debates. Yes we have mayors and paramount chiefs and resident ministers. But Mayor in name is not enough. They have to make a difference for their people. The role of the central government is to support them. Its like too much chiefs and less Indians. Please next time come up with ideas on how to move our country forward.

  5. Welcoming innovation by FCC stakeholders. I personally don’t mind paying more for my property in Freetown, so long as the funds are utilized in modernizing/upgrading the municipal infrastructure.

  6. Yeah. When one of the best and greatest serving Mayors ever in our history talks about transparency – underlined, makes me feel good. This is what our charismatic, lovely, kind, indomitable, hardworking, possibly future leader – Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyer said – “Payment should only be made through the Banks noted on the Rate Demand Notice. This ensures security and transparency, and better service delivery outcomes for Freetown.”

    Did they hear that and are they prepared to follow Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyer’s example? Look at how smart she looks in that picture. Oh boy. What a kind, caring and lovely Mayor, who is out there, day and night battling for the wellbeing of the citizens of her municipality. Well done Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyer and may God bless you. What a Lovely, smart and confident Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyer there.

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