PUNE: The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has collected an all-time high annual property tax of Rs 310 crore.
Speaking to TOI, assistant commissioner and chief of property tax department Bhanudas Gaikwad said it was the highest income by the department in 32 years.
Octroi collection was the main source of income for the civic body till the state government replaced it with the local body tax (LBT) last April. The other two major sources of income are the building permission and property tax departments.
"The main focus of the department was to recover the maximum amount of arrears which totalled up to Rs 299 crore at the beginning of the fiscal. We had sent notices to the owners of around 1.25 lakh properties, who had arrears of more than Rs 1,000 each. The department was able to recover a total of Rs 128 crore from the defaulters," Gaikwad said.
The annual budget target for the property tax department was to collect Rs 327 crore in 2013-14. When the state government introduced the LBT, the civic body was expected to have a deficit of Rs 330 crore when compared to the octroi income.
Therefore, former municipal commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi had increased the collection target for the property tax department to Rs 400 crore. He had asked the department to start playing brass bands in front of the defaulters' properties to recover the arrears.
The municipal limits were divided into 15 divisions and as many as 10 brass band teams were hired to cover all the areas. "The brass bands helped us recover arrears of around Rs 25 crore," Gaikwad said.
A civic official said the services of the brass bands could be utilized only for around two months as the fiscal ended on March 31.
Many employees of the department had been roped in for preparations of the Lok Sabha elections, therefore, very few staffers were available for further recovery of the property tax. Had these hurdles not been there, the department would have collected around Rs 340 crore, the official said.