KOLHAPUR: Corporators of the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation (KMC) on Thursday came down heavily on the property tax department, which has managed to collect just 50% of its target, just 50 days before the start of the next financial year.
The department has collected property tax worth Rs 21.17 crore as against the target of Rs 42 crore for the next fiscal. The corporators blamed the lethargic attitude of the officials for the failure to attain the targeted collection.
Property tax is one of the main sources of revenue for the municipal corporation. For the financial year 2012-13, the target set for tax collection was also Rs 42 crore, but the collection was worth Rs 37 crore — about 14% of the total budget.
The property tax department handles the billing and collection of tax on residential and commercial plots and other types of properties-held privately or by the government (state and central) — within the KMC limits.
Independent corporator Nishikant Methe said, "The effect of the lethargic attitude of the officials of the property tax department would be seen on the development projects in the next financial year. We are left with just 50 days to collect the taxes as the budget for the next year will be drafted in a month. However, it will now be difficult to plan the projects as we will not have enough money to spend on these works."
NCP corporator Bhupal Shete said, "There are 119 employees with the property tax department and Rs 3.5 crore is spent on their income annually. The employees are not efficient in their work as most of the property owners have not received the bills. Most of these owners would now have to pay late charges. We demand that their salaries be stopped till they meet the targeted collection."
Congress corporator Prakash Patil demanded to bring unassessed properties under the property tax net. "The civic administration has not reached those not paying taxes despite knowing their properties. If it would have surveyed those properties on time, it would have contributed to the revenue collected through the tax."
In the standing committee meeting held last week, the corporators had demanded a concession of 50% on late charges on property tax dues if the defaulters pay the tax in a single payment. However, the civic administration didn't accept the proposal as according to them, it required the approval of the state government.
Standing committee chairman Sachin Chavan said, "The civic body is reluctant to act on the demands of the people to give relief for late charges. If this is the case, then we will come up with a proposal which will be tabled in the next general body meet so that the taxes can be recovered fast."
Civic officials failed to address the concerns of the corporators. The departmental head remained absent despite the issue being included in the proceedings.
KMC deputy commissioner Ashwini Waghmale said, "Practically speaking, the recovery of tax dues is impossible in the remaining days. However, we are trying to collect the taxes for which we have started dhol tasha bands to appeal to property owners to pay the tax. We will also carry out a drive for recovery of all taxes such as local body tax, licence fees, water tax and property tax for which 21 different teams have been appointed. If the officials and other employees fail to achieve the set target, we will stop the increment and salaries from next month."
He added that most employees of the department were deployed for election work by the district administration, which led to the tax collection getting delayed. However, the corporators tabled and approved a proposal to not allow departmental heads and other employees required for tax collection to be deployed for election work.