Tough times ahead for property owners in Siaya as county assembly proposes upward review of rates

Property owners in Siaya will start paying more in land rates if a bill seeking fresh valuations is endorsed by the county assembly.

The Siaya County Valuation and Rating Bill, 2023, proposes that moving forward, the rates be based on new valuations. The proponents of the Bill believe property rates should be reviewed upwards.

The Department of Lands and Physical Planning said the Bill, which is subject to public participation, is crucial to the growth of the county’s Own Source Revenue (OSR).

County Lands executive Maurice McOrege said the Bill will spur economic development in all the major municipalities and towns in the devolved unit.

"The Bill also provides a legal framework for valuing and rating land with the aim of ensuring efficiency, accountability and transparency in the administration of valued land for rating," McOrege said.

In addition, the Bill provides for the valuation of property rates and the imposition, payment and collection of the same in the county.

The current rates, which stand at 10 per cent of the value of the unimproved site, are based on the valuations of 2012.

If the Bill is passed, rates will be set out in the Annual County Finance Act, with a general valuation of land to be done every 10 years. Supplementary valuations will be done every year.

A recent report by a task force that was led by former Auditor General Edward Ouko said the county has not developed legislation on property transfer.

The report, which identified property taxes as one of the most important revenue streams for the county, cited the lack of a valuation roll as a major contributing factor.