Council drops water hike to 15%

2012-05-25 00:00

THE proposed 22% water tariff increase for Msunduzi Municipality has dropped to 15% for residents and 17% for businesses.

Municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi tabled this in his report to the executive committee (Exco) yesterday after a month of consulting residents about the council’s final draft capital and operating budget.

Revenue amounts to R2,987 billion and expenditure to R2,982 billion.

The draft is due to be approved by the full council next week.

“Electricity is estimated to increase by 16% and this will be subject to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) approval, as will be determined on consideration of the municipal application and bulk electricity increase.”

The municipal manager said the water tariff increase proposals took into account a 17,5% increase in the cost of bulk water as advised by Umgeni Water.

“The 17,5% increase translates to a 6,5% increase in bulk purchases and an 11% increase relating to the construction of the Spring Grove Dam.”

He said a tariff increase of 15% for residential consumers and a 17% on all the other categories was proposed. This was dropped from the 22% that was initially proposed by the council.

Sanitation and refuse removal rates will increase by seven percent.

Nkosi said that in setting increases on tariffs, the national Treasury issued an inflation forecast of 5,4%.

“This has been well considered and this resulted in all tariffs except electricity and water to be increased below 10%,” he added.

Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB) CEO Melanie Veness was not impressed.

“We are outraged the municipality has elected to table a budget that includes a 16% hike in electricity, despite a submission from business indicating the effects of such a hike on our competitiveness and despite extensive consultation,” she said.

“It is inconceivable that Msunduzi should have to institute such a huge increase when our neighbours, eThekwini Metro, are able to table a budget with an 11% increase.”

Veness said the chamber will take the matter up with its members and decide on a way forward.

Msunduzi Rates Forum deputy chairperson Ronnie George said: “We pay separate rates for water, electricity and waste removal, but if you take the Northdale area, grass is not cut, potholes are not repaired and on a regular basis our refuse is not removed.”

George said residents expected to have services rendered when they paid rates for them.

“I understand that council is paying for infrastructure in the previously disadvantaged areas, which is acceptable.

“However, the municipality needs to use some of the money to maintain the developed areas to keep a balance.”

George said residents would be dissastisfied until the valuation of properties was finalised and ratepayers in the northern suburbs would be unhappy until the council delivered proper services.

He declined to comment further on the final draft budget for 2012/13 financial year until he had seen the document.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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