Vijayawada civic body raises property tax

Dara Gopi

Amaravati: The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) has given a shock to the people by setting a property tax collection target of Rs 100 crore for this financial year. The VMC, which passed Rs 1,327.64 crore annual budget on Saturday, projected a total tax revenue of Rs 174.35 crore of which Rs 100 crore is from property tax. The fund-starved civic body has now fixed Rs 85.85 crore revenue from drainage and drinking water. It is for this reason the VMC is knocking on every door in the city and slapping notices on house owners to have drainage connection.

The VMC that had started with a realistic budget of Rs 50 crore during Dr Jandhyala Shankar’s time in 1990s had crossed the Rs 100 crore mark during late T Venkateswara Rao’s period in 2000s. The entry of the JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) with a promise of Rs 500 crore for the city had taken the annual budget projections to the unrealistic assessment finally landing the civic body in the debt trap. The civic body had to mortgage the commercial complexes like Vastralatha and NTR Complex in the city to generate funds over the years.

Now with TDP’s Koneru Sridhar heading the civic body as mayor and Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu sitting in the city, the civic body has the additional burden of beautification over the last two years. With empty coffers staring in its face, the civic body wants to collect Rs 100 crore from property tax. That is a 10 per cent hike in one go. As if this is not enough, the VMC plans to mop up another Rs 85.85 crore from drinking water and drainage connections and mulling to enhance the tax on vacant lands with an increase of 5 per cent.

The Tax Payers Association has strongly objected to the civic body’s ambitious tax plans. With a projected revenue earning of Rs 562.21 crore on hand (including the property tax) and capital revenue of Rs 633.38 crore and an expenditure of Rs 1280.26 crore, the civic body has to fill the revenue-expenditure gap through additional taxes only. That means citizens have to brace for more taxes.

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