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Considering the facts that the sustainability of service delivery is hinged on own revenue mobilisation, the untimely disbursement of central government transfers and the expected discontinuity in the disbursements of donor funds in the medium to long term, local councils are faced with enormous challenges to enhance their revenue potential to improve service delivery at the local level. For councils to be aware of what their obligations are in revenue mobilisation and collections and the methods they must take to maximise revenue collection, the following methods should be adopted for the medium term.
Local Tax and Market Dues • Get an idea of all eligible local tax payers through survey or census reports  • Local councils engage chiefdom authorities to negotiate workable collection and sharing arrangements
Property Rates • Establish proper valuation zones • Update valuation rolls (property census) • Establish record on all properties that has changed use (comm./residential) • Initially adopt simple valuation methods • Train valuation specialists in the medium term.
Licenses and Fees and Charges • Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Law Officers Department to harmonize policy and legal instrument relating to revenue assignment.


Revenue Sources The resources at the disposal of the local councils are their own revenue sources and grant for administrative expenses. All other grants to councils (grants for devolved functions and the Local Government Development Grant) (LGDG) are tied to the implementation of specific activities. Grants for devolved functions relates to the Statutory Instrument which clearly map out Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) commitments to devolve functions to the local councils for the transition period 2004-2008. Implementation of activities using the LGDG is tied to local council’s development plans. 
3.1 Own Revenue Sources The most important and lucrative sources of local councils’ revenues are: 1) Precept from local tax 2) Property tax 3) Licences  4) Fees and charges  (market dues) and 5) Mining revenues 
There is a sharing formula designed by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development between the local councils and chiefdom councils for three of the above revenue sources.    a) Local Tax • Local tax in Sierra Leone is a tax per head on selected individuals (poll tax)  • The Government sets the tax base and the legal basis is the Local Tax Act  • The LGA 2004 says every person liable should pay local tax •  Liability is defined in the Local Tax Act 1975 as all adult males age 21 years and above in a council’s area who are in receipt of any income, and are ordinary resident in the area  • The tax rate is set by local councils but collected by chiefdom councils  • The current sharing formula is 60 percent in favour of chiefdom councils – This could be different in other councils
b) Property Rates • The legal basis is the LGA 2004 
• The LGA 2004 states the definition of property as all buildings within a council’s locality • The tax is payable on the ‘assessed annual value’ of all buildings.   • The Act, in section 70, gives a list of those properties that are exempt from property rates.  These are: any church, chapel, mosque, meeting-house or other building exclusively used for public religious worship; buildings used for public hospitals and clinics; buildings used for charitable purposes; buildings used for public educational purposes, including public universities, colleges and schools; buildings on burial grounds and crematoria; and buildings owned by diplomatic missions as may be approved by the Ministry responsible for foreign affairs. 
c) Licences • Section 56 of the LGA 2004 states that councils SHALL issue a license to any person who: establishes or maintains premises from which to carry on any business; owns a cart, wagon or other non-motorised vehicle or canoe; or holds any concert, dance, musical, theatrical or other entertainment. 
d) Fees and Charges • The LGA 2004 states that local councils shall charge fees for: the use of markets; the use of bus, taxi, car or lorry parks; the extraction of fish; the extraction of timber, sand and other building materials; and services provided by the council. • Some fees councils could charge include, but are not limited to: hire of the town hall; hire of recreation grounds; rent of council property; jetty/landing fees; cemetery/burial fees; lorry park fees; slaughter house fees; market store rent etc. • A major component of fees and charges, which has proved to be one very lucrative source of revenue for local councils, is market dues. 
Market Dues • This is charge levied on persons selling in councils jurisdiction  • The Act states that councils shall charge fees for the use of markets  • Collection of this fee is done by the chiefdom administration for the district councils and revenue collectors for the urban councils • The sharing formula is 80 percent in favour of the chiefdom councils.  • Market due for the urban councils and the Western Area Rural District Council is not shared. 
e) Mining Royalties The sharing formula for this source is as follows: Mining surface rent from small-scale miners - 80 percent in favour of chiefdom councils  Mining surface rent from large-scale miners • 40 percent to land owning families  • 20 percent to chiefdoms  • 20 percent to Paramount Chief  • 20 percent to councils 
Community Development Fund (0.75%) - 80 percent in favour of chiefdom councils4 
3.2 Transfers to Local Councils There are basically three broad types of transfers: Administrative Grants, Grants for Devolved Functions and the Local Government Development Grant (LGDG). The first two are provided for in the LGA2004 and are financed solely by the central government. The LGDG is co-financed by government of Sierra Leone and donors mainly the World Bank and DFID.  
3.2.1 Administrative Grant  Government do provide administrative grant to help local councils defray some of their administrative expenses, considering that many of them are newly established councils and are learning to mobilize local revenue. The administrative grants are to be used to finance administrative and supervision activities related to performing local council functions. It is NOT meant to cover only the allowances of councillors. 
3.2.2 Grants for Devolved Functions Section 46(2) of the Local Government Act 2004 provides that there shall be paid to local councils, transfers in the form of tied grants for each devolved function, in an amount that is at least necessary to continue the operation and maintenance of the devolved function at its pre-devolution level. In accordance with the Statutory Instrument of November 2004, more functions have been devolved to Local Councils in 2006 in addition to the functions devolved in 2005. Thus the total resource envelope has increased significantly (see chart below). 
3.2.3 Local Government Development Grant (LGDG) This grant is intended to help councils undertake development projects in their localities. This grant is not specific to any sectors and allows discretionary decisions of councils to undertake development projects that meet priority needs of their localities. The LGDG Operations Manual specifies a range of projects for which this grant is applicable or not.
This grant program has a Revenue Effort component, access to which is conditional on a council contributing 50 percent of the cost of an additional proposed project. For instance, if Council A is entitled to Le50 million (US$16,700) of the Revenue Effort Grant, then it can propose a project whose total cost does not exceed Le100 million (US$33,400) provided that it can provide convincing evidence that it can finance 50 percent of the cost of the project in question. However, funds allocated per councils will be reverted to a common pool where any council can access it, if councils cannot match their allocation by July of every year5.

The mandate for the Freetown Development Plan emanates from the Local Government Act 2004.  A whole chapter in the act, captioned ‘Part XI - Development Planning’, is devoted to this as follows:
(1) A local council shall cause to be prepared a development plan, which shall guide the development of the locality. (2) The draft of a development plan shall be made publicly available. (3) A development plan shall form the basis for the preparation of the budget of a local council. (4) A local council shall, before approving or reviewing a development plan, consult residents of the locality, agencies of Government and non-governmental and international organizations that have interest in working in the locality. (5) The Ministry responsible for development and economic planning shall issue guidelines for the preparation of development plans. 86. For the purposes of subsection (1) of section 85, a local council shall appoint a Local Technical Planning Committee, which shall consist of  (a) the Local Council Chief Administrator who shall chair the Committee; (b) Heads of relevant Departments of the local council; and (c) Any technical person co-opted by the Local Council Chief Administrator. 87. A local council shall review its development plan as and when necessary. 88. A copy of the approved development plan shall be made available at the office of the local council and in a conspicuous place in every Ward, immediately after approval. 89. A development plan prepared and approved by a local council shall not be incompatible with any national development plan adopted by the Government.

The Freetown City Council (FCC) is one of the 19 Local Councils in Sierra Leone. The city of Freetown, the administrative and capital city of Sierra Leone, was first established in 1789. It is one of the oldest cities in Africa which is attractive and safe for tourists and prospecting business bodies or organizations. The administrative area of the Freetown municipality is bounded to the west by the Western Rural District Council. It stretches from the Orugu River Bridge in the East to Levuma Beach in the west of Freetown and towards the mountains at Hill station near Regent. The Freetown municipality consists of a body of 49 Councillors and is headed by a Mayor. Each ward is superintended over by a Councillor who is also the Chairman of the Ward Committee – another tier in the local governance system in Sierra Leone. Ward Committees are aptly described as helpmates to the Council supporting improved service delivery at the local level. The jurisdiction of the Freetown City Council covers 49 wards within 17 constituencies in the Western Urban area.  The physical structure of the municipality is largely of Gabbro origin characterized by over hanging mountains and very beautiful natural sand beaches. 
Councillors Freetown is divided into 49 wards. From each ward one councilor is elected to serve for a period of four years term and can be re-elected as many times as possible. The qualifications necessary as a councilor are set forth in the Local Government Act (2004). Apart from being a registered elector, the candidate must be a citizen of no less than 21 years of age and must have paid all taxes and rates in the locality as required by the Law. The seat of an elected councilor becomes vacant upon his death, resignation, continuous absence for more than three consecutive ordinary meetings without a valid excuse among others (see Part 3 section 9 of the LGA, 2004).
Mayor Subject to the Local Government Act 2004, the Chairperson of the Council, who is the Mayor of the Municipality, will be elected for four years and shall be eligible for re-election once. Election shall be done by universal adult suffrage by registered electors of the Municipality. The Act further provides that the Mayor can be elected from within or without the number of councilors. The Mayor presides at the meetings of council, represents councils in various fora, and attends a number of ceremonial functions. In a similar manner, the Mayor’s Deputy or Deputy Chairperson of the Council becomes the political head of the Council in the absence of the Mayor.
The Council The size of the council is dictated by the prevailing ideas concerning representation. Originally, when the council was first inaugurated in 1895 there were 15 elected councilors and the Mayor. After the suspension of the 1893 constitution the council became reconstituted with 15 elected members. The Freetown City Council was re-established in 2004 through the enactment of the Local Government Act of 2004. The City Council works through committees and meet at least once a month. At the monthly meeting recommendations from the various committees are discussed and appropriate action decided upon. The Chief Administrator being the administrative head of the Council ensures that lawful Council’s decisions are implemented. (LGA.2004) 
There are at the moment many standing committees, in the council among them are:  The Assessment Committee  The Labour and Establishment Committee  The Education Committee  The Finance and Budget Committee
Freetown City Council (Development Plan 2016-2018)
 The Health and Sanitation Committee  The Agriculture and Food Security Committee  The Energy and Public Utilities Committee  The Planning and Development Committee  The Municipal Trade Committee  The Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs Committee  The Information and Tourism Committee  The Lands and City Planning Committee  The Foreign Relations and Protocol Committee  The Youth and Sports Committee.
Standing Orders of the Council provide that co-opted members shall not exceed one-third of the total membership of the Council. Such co-opted members are not counted for the purposes of a quorum, nor do they have a right to vote. Each committee elects its own chairman to preside at all meetings and a vice-chairman to preside in the Chairman’s absence. In the case of the Assessment Committee, the Mayor is the chairman. The committees deal with matters brought to their notice by the Chief Administrator. The Chief Administrator is the administrative head of the Council with duties and responsibilities as per part IV section 31 sub section 4 of the LGA 2004. 

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