The sting is in the tail

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The proposed 2016/2017 municipal budget: the sting is in the tail

THE Ndlambe Ratepayers Forum (NRF) has met with the chief financial officer and chairperson of the budget steering committee on a few occasions regarding the draft municipal budget and raised a number of issues on cost cutting.

At its last meeting with the chief financial officer it was pointed out that numerous budget spreadsheet errors had been made.If these errors have any influence on the budget will only be determined once it has been corrected.

The draft budget tabled at council originally proposed a 17% increase, which clearly would never have been accepted by residents. This raises the question why in the first place table a draft budget with an unrealistic rates increase?

The NRF suggested that in future the rates increase should be negotiated at the start of the budget process.

The new proposal on rates increase is 11%. However, the sting is in the tail, because the intention is to cut the present 18% rates rebate, which we all receive, to 16% – effectively the increase will then be 13%.

Bearing in mind the example set by national government to cut costs – which should be followed by municipalities, the rising inflation rate, increases in the cost of fuel, food, electricity, a 13% increase is not acceptable.

The NRF have requested another meeting with the mayor and officials on issues that could result in further cost cutting which, if implemented, could lower the rates increase, eg:

  • Referring to Treasury’s circular no 82 on cost cutting, we would expect a reduction compared to last year, in certain votes, eg: travelling, consultancy fees, teas/refreshments (this list is not a complete);
  • The increase in overtime and amount spend on casuals;
  • Increase on providing security guards/services;
  • R700 000 for job creation. This should be funded by national government – not by residents.

The 16% increase in water usage fees, considering that the water quality in areas of Ndlambe do not conform to SANS 241 standard on chemical content (high salt content), is not acceptable.

Residents living in these areas have to rely on rain water harvesting (tank water) for drinking purpose and should therefore be given a rebate if the water is not potable.

NDLAMBE RATEPAYERS FORUM CHAIRMAN CHRIS BEZUIDENHOUT

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