Prepare for a tariff hike

Both budgets were approved by all political parties except the Democratic Alliance (DA) which rejected it, saying residents simply could not afford the increases given the tough economic climate.

Along with the fuel hike, KwaDukuza and Ilembe residents will have to brace themselves for a 9.5 percent increase in water and sanitation and an eight percent increase in property rates and refuse removals.

This was announced last week by KwaDukuza and Ilembe mayors Ricardo Mthembu and Sduduzo Gumede, during their respective state of the district addresses.

Along with outlying projects and cost management solutions for the year ahead, both municipalities announced their finalised budget for the 2018/2019 financial year.

Ilembe has settled on a budget of R1.1 billion while KDM’s budget sits at R1.8 billion.

While KDM focuses on electricity and infrastructure maintenance and development, Ilembe is concerned with water and sanitation.

Both municipalities have struggled to meet the demands of residents as potholes remain unfixed in many parts of KwaDukuza and water provision in some Ilembe areas remain hampered by 50-yearold old pipelines which the municipality does not have funds to replace.

Also read: New life for DOCRRA?

Taking into account low collection rates as residents struggle to meet their debts as well as losses of electricity, water and high employee-related costs, both municipalities may be planning to spend more money than they have. Mthembu said the budget has forced the council to prioritise certain infrastructure projects in the district.

He said factors such as the high unemployment rates, inflation and petrol prices were taken into consideration while drafting the budget and tariff increases.

“Producing a balanced, credible and funded budget taking into account realistically anticipated revenues under these on-going difficulties in the national and local economy was a challenge. Another challenge was the need to reprioritise projects and expenditure within the existing resources, given the cash flow realities and declining cash position of the municipality.”

KwaDukuza mayor Ricardo Mthembu.

Ilembe mayor Sduduzo Gumede said his council’s focus was on the maintenance of water infrastructure. The budget is R767.3 million and wastewater infrastructure R218.5 million. Provision has been made for residents who cannot afford water charges.

“Our budget is designed and aligned to serve all people within our district. In this instance, we have increased the provision of free basic services to R 23.1 million.”

Both budgets were approved by all political parties except the Democratic Alliance (DA) which rejected it, saying residents simply could not afford the increases given the tough economic climate. DA caucus leader Madhun Sing said: “The DA is aware that some of the cost is unavoidable, the bottom line is with our slow economic growth of just over one percent an added one percent Vat increase will push people into a difficult situation.”

Also read: Nothing for mahhala in KwaDukuza

The DA also called out KDM on their underspending of funds for key projects last year, and accused them of making residents beg for service delivery.

Sing urged the municipality to improve in the coming year.

“It is the role of senior management to ensure that both acquisitions of new assets and maintenance of old assets are considered in a sustainable and affordable manner.

“The core function is to provide basic services.

Ilembe Municipality executive committee from left, Musawenkosi Maphumulo, Andrew Gopaul, Ilembe deputy Mayor Dolly Shandu, Ilembe mayor Sduduzo Gumede, Ilembe council speaker Lucky Makhathini and executive committee members Sandeep Oudhram and Aubrey Baardman.

“Residents should not beg to have potholes fixed, streetlights fixed, refuse removed, it should be done.

“This brings me to the customer satisfaction survey. When analysed 50 percent indicated they were not happy with the service of the municipality which should concern all of us and collectively work together to improve on the shortcomings.”

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  AUTHOR
Erica Abrahams
Journalist

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