Council divided on raising fair market values

Council divided on raising fair market values
SunStar Local News GPX

THE Cebu City Council is divided regarding the passage of the 2023 Revised Real Property Tax (RPT) Code of Cebu City, which may delay its implementation.

In an interview on Wednesday, March 20, 2024, Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia admitted that council members do not share the same stance.

“I have to be honest with you, lain-lain mi og stance. That’s why it is taking very long because wala mi (we don’t have a) common stance on this particular issue,” he said.

Garcia said some councilors are inclined towards supporting the increase, albeit with minimal discounts, while others advocate for the raise but with a staggered implementation. There are also those who outright oppose any revision altogether.

“Wa jud nagkauyon ang mga konsehal (The councilors cannot agree). That’s why it’s taking us so long,” Garcia said.

The council is deliberating on increasing not the tax rate itself, which will remain the same at three percent, but the fair market values on which the assessed values (the values that will be multiplied by the tax rate) will be based.

Garcia explained that there is nothing wrong with the revision because it is mandated under the Local Government Code of 1991 (LGC). He said there should be a revision because the City has not updated fair market values in 21 years.

Under the law, these should have been updated every three years, he said.

However, Garcia raised the question of its timeliness, and pointed out that most taxpayers are still recovering from effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and super typhoon Odette (Rai).

“I and the other councilors are for the revision, but the question is, is it the right time?” Garcia said.

He said some cities in the country give discounts to business owners on their RPT.

Meanwhile, City Councilor Noel Wenceslao, chairman of the committee on budget and finance, said there are three kinds of properties that are subject to taxation: land, structure and machinery.

Wenceslao said the tax value of structure and machinery hardly appreciates, unlike that of land.

He said the fair market value of land goes up every year, as land never depreciates in value.

“If we will not implement it now, wala na siyay problema (it won’t be a problem). However, it will widen the gap and the more we will have a problem... Kung padogayon nato’g samot (If we delay it further), the more nga mosaka ang fair market value sa yuta (the fair market value of land will rise),” Wenceslao said.

Asked if the City can be made liable administratively if it doesn’t implement the revision, given that it is mandated by law, both Garcia and Wenceslao said it is not specified in the LGC.

Last Monday, March 18, City Councilor Nestor Archival Sr. announced his opposition to the proposed revised RPT code, slated for a second round of deliberation.

Archival said he was ready to challenge its enactment despite Mayor Michael Rama’s push for the ordinance’s passage by March’s end.

Archival also vowed to suspend the tax increase if he runs and wins the mayoral race in the 2025 midterm elections, should his opposition fail.

Stressing the need to mitigate burdens on businesses and the public, Archival advocated for amending the ordinance to revert to previous fair market values.

Archival and former mayor Tomas Osmeña both said the City Government will not face a budget deficit without the revised fair market values, asserting that the current tax collection system is effective. / AML


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