Budget Increases 2016/2017
THE editorial in the Talk of the Town of June 2 gives a clear but unacceptable insight into the process of the 2016/2017 budget.
The apathy of residents and ratepayers as well as the silence of the DA councillors, allows the increases to be thrust on us. This apathy is understandable in view of the failure, over many years, of councillors and officials to respond in any meaningful way to written and oral input from members of the public during the budgeting process.
By accepting the position of chairman of the finance committee the DA Ward 10 councillor compromised, not only himself, but also his political party. It means that the chairman is in accord with the budget proposals and its methodology. We need to be assured that the public participation process followed was not a mere box-ticking exercise. The budget increases as set out in the above edition of TotT are alarming, unaffordable and unacceptable.
The annual ruse of the draft budget being set initially at unrealistically high percentages and then reduced, underestimates our intelligence. The increases are due to the failure of councillors, the directors and the municipal manager to understand their fiduciary responsibilities, and to give the ratepayer value-for-money in the manner in which they do their daily work. It is easier to follow their political masters than to come to grips with the needs of the towns of Ndlambe Municipality.
In proposing the annual budget, increases are always highlighted. It would be good governance if the planned service level improvements to justify these increases were provided. External capital funding, such as the municipal infrastructure grants should not be taken into account.
In drawing up the draft budget and IDP one can only wonder what the parameters were set for this annual exercise. Was it to simply add percentages to the previous year’s budget figure? We read ad nauseam that if the budget is not increased it will lead to poor service delivery – this is repeated annually as if the vinyl record is stuck.
There is one more stage to the budget process and that is for it to be discussed with the public. This is our last-gasp opportunity to show our displeasure by attending this “public” meeting en-masse with firm and sustainable proposals.
We rely on the officials and our councillors to make everyone aware of the date, time and venue of this meeting. The meeting must be held out of working hours to allow working people to attend, with adequate notice of the meeting and the prominent display of such notices.