Local authorities fail to collect real estate taxes

J'lem Municipality hasn't collected millions from yeshivot; Beersheba Municipality doesn't charge them .

haredim meah shearim (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
haredim meah shearim
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The higher yeshivot and yeshivot for adults (kollelim) owe the Jerusalem Municipality more than NIS 26 million in real estate taxes and accumulated interest but the city has done nothing to collect the money, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss charged in his annual report for 2007. The state comptroller devoted the longest section of the report to an examination of various aspects of the functioning of a large number of cities and local and regional councils. The topics included environmental protection, collection of real estate taxes from government ministry offices and government companies, collection of real estate taxes from public institutions, illegal garbage dumps in agricultural settlements, and other matters. Lindenstrauss wrote that the record of cities including Ariel, Ashkelon, Beersheba, Jerusalem, Lod and Ramat Gan, the town of Be'er Ya'acov and the Jordan Valley and Jezre'el Valley regional councils regarding collection of real estate taxes from government institutions was "faulty," while the record of the same communities in collecting taxes from public institutions was "very faulty." The state comptroller found that there were several bureaucratic problems regarding the cooperation among the three government bodies directly responsible for the environment including the local authorities, the Environment Ministry and the Interior Ministry. Almost 80 percent of the local authorities, either individually or in associations, have environmental units. However, the state comptroller found that the Environment has failed to establish basic models of what the unit should comprise and what its basic tasks and output should be. He also found that local authorities organized in associations did not define in writing the nature of the cooperation they were supposed to maintain, including their tasks, prerogatives and responsibilities. Lindenstrauss then examined the various environmental problems that the local authorities, guided by the Environment Ministry and supervised by the Interior Ministry, were supposed to handle. For example, he found that although many local authority workers are authorized to issue fines for littering, only a few of them exercised that authority. He also found there was a turf war between the Environment Ministry and the associations of cities as to which one should issue orders and enforce measures to lower air pollution levels from factories. Regarding pollution from cars, the state comptroller reported that when the Tel Aviv district branch of the Environment Ministry proposed monitoring these levels in Gush Dan, the cities of Givatayim, Ramat Gan and Bat Yam refused to place the monitors in kindergartens, as the ministry had proposed.