Defending the decision to hike property tax by 15 per cent, Mayor Harinath has said that the Mangaluru City Corporation is legally bound to hike it once in three years.
He said that the Congress-ruled civic body acted as per Section 109 (A) of the Karnataka Municipalities Act.
“We are bound by law to increase the tax by 15 per cent. If we don’t do it, then the city body will lose crores of rupees as grant from the State government,” Mr. Harinath said.
The corporation had come under attack by senior Congress leader B. Janardhana Poojary and the Bharatiya Janata Party for effecting the hike.
Criticising the civic body for the decision taken in a special session on December 22, Mr. Poojary and BJP members had said that the Congress councillors acted against the promise they made during elections that they would not increase the tax.
In his reply, Mr. Harinath said that the self-assessment scheme (SAS) for property tax was launched during the Congress rule in 2002.
The party councillors stood by its stand and did not implement it till 2007. The SAS came into effect on April 1, 2008, when the BJP ruled the civic body and the first hike was in 2011 when the same party was in power. The second hike was in April 2014 when the then Deputy Commissioner A.B. Ibrahim was the administrator of the corporation.
He admitted that the party failed to make this clear in the manifesto. Mr. Harinath said he has explained the legal position to Mr. Poojary.
Mr. Harinath said that Rs. 30 crore had been collected as property tax and arrears in the last few months. They were hopeful of collecting around Rs. 50 crore by March.
The private firm assigned the task of developing software for digitisation of properties, was yet to come out with the fine print of the software.