NASHIK: The standing committee of the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) on Tuesday rejected the municipal commissioner's proposal to increase water and property taxes, which have not been touched since 1992.
Municipal commissioner Sanjay Khandare had proposed an increase in the two taxes in the draft civic budget, which he presented on February 14.
One the one hand, all the panel members opposed Khandare's proposal to increase the two taxes and on the other, corporators sought inclusion of playgrounds in the budget while slamming the move to hike taxes.
Khandare, who was conspicuous by his absence at the meeting, attracted the wrath of the corporators, who insisted that he be summoned for discussion. Standing committee chairman Ramesh Dhongade then called Khandare, who reportedly said "he had already presented the budget and now it was up to the standing committee to take the decision".
After Khandare's refusal to attend the meeting, the discussion took place in the presence of the panel chairman and the deputy municipal commissioner.
Shiv Sena corporator Shivaji Sahane said, "We oppose the tax hike and feel that leakages need to be plugged. The corporators had submitted many proposals to be included in the budget, but that has not been done."
The civic chief has proposed an expected income of Rs 1,875 crore and has shown an expenditure of Rs 1,873 crore, he said.
"After the essential works are completed from this proposed income of Rs 1,875 crore, only Rs 247 crore remain, which is not sufficient for the 122 corporators to carry out developmental works. The funds for Kumbh works have been calculated as Rs 250 crore and revenue from the local body tax (LBT) for two months has been calculated at Rs 250 crore. An amount of Rs 30 lakh has been calculated as income from the compost plant, which is not justified," said Sahane.
City engineer Sunil Khune said Rs 218 crore has been allocated for Kumbh while deputy municipal commissioner (LBT) Haribhau Phadol said the maximum collection from LBT would be Rs 120 crore. This shows a deficit of around Rs 200 crore in the budget, the corporators said.
Republican Party of India corporator Prakash Londhe said that leakages in payment of taxes should be plugged. He spoke about loss of revenue through illegal constructions and residential taxes for buildings used for commercial purpose. "This budget does not have any new projects that would generate revenue."
BJP corporator Seema Hiray complained that every year, the corporators submitted their proposals but they were not included in the budget. "Except for the jogging track, nothing has been done for my area. Asphalting of roads has been pending for years."
Congress corporator Ashwini Boraste said that it was a disappointing budget. "While e-governance projects have been included, we have already witnessed what had happened with the installation of the GPS system in garbage vans. Provisions have been made for 23 villages in the NMC limits but there are many gaothan areas in the city that have not been considered."
MNS corporator Sudam Kombde appreciated the provision made for developing the 23 villages, citing examples of crime in Pathardi village due to lack of street lights.
The panel chairman said, "All the suggestions of the corporators will be considered and following rectification, the proposed budget will be taken up for discussion at the next general body meeting on February 20," he said.