WARD 10 councillor Raymond Schenk stepped in to deliver the overview of the budget process last week at the Integrated Development Plan meeting held at the Civic Centre.
Mayor Phindile Faxi was scheduled to conduct the meeting but had to attend to angry protesters at New Rest regarding a housing protest.
The meeting was well attended with residents representing Alexandria, Nemato, Port Alfred, Station Hill and Bushman’s River. Schenk said the draft budget had been tabled in March and that it had not been finalised yet, but that it would be in council before the end of June.
Shenck addressed some of the facts, figures and challenges regarding the budget, emphasising that the Ndlambe Municipality budget reflects a R35-million deficit.
“We can’t approve a budget with a deficit. We need to absolve the deficit. One way is to hike rates, but we can’t do that,” said Schenk.
“We are not very flush. Ndlambe municipality is not a wealthy municipality. We don’t have strong rates base. Ndlambe relies very much on government grants to support its structures,” he said.
According to the draft proposal, there will be a 9% rates increase. With regards to trade services, water will increase by 7%.
Sewage and sanitation is proposed to increase by 12%. “We have a deficit of over R1.5-million for this. We have to look at it; we don’t know what we are going to do just yet,” said Schenk.
Sewage and sanitation is likely to cause a bigger stink in the budget as currently Ndlambe has only one sanitation truck (sucking Suzy), that services an area between Port Alfred, Kleinemonde and Bathurst. This truck is also old and overworked, Schenk said.
“The directorate has suggested we buy two additional trucks. But we suggested perhaps only one for now. ”
In terms of refuse removal, the budget proposes a 12% increase, and electricity an increase of 6% as recommended National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA). “This is still under the inflation rate,” Schenk said.
The internal capital budget had to be reduced from R45-million to R9-million. “Somehow we have to try balance the books without it affecting our service delivery,” he said.
Ndlambe Municipality also needs to purchase new vehicles – equipment which will reflect the needs of the municipality and be affordable to the community, Schenk said.
A member of Bushman’s River Ratepayer Association raised the issue of the housing backlog and sewage. Schenk said there was a comprehensive business plan for reticulation of sewage in the pipeline but that they are still waiting for national government to respond.
“Housing is not a competency of local municipalities,” Schenk said.
From the floor, Zwelinzima Nkwinti said that the municipality needs to talk to the needs of people, not about the municipality’s problems.
“It seems to the people in Alexandria that we are the black sheep of Ndlambe,” said a resident representing Alexandria community. He said many residents in Alexandria don’t even have water, or tanks at home, never mind proper sewage services.
Click below to view the full Draft IDP in full screen.