District focuses on service

2010-06-07 00:00

THE uMgungundlovu District Muni­cipality is to spend more than a third of its 2010/2011 budget on the provision of water and sanitation in areas under its control.

About 36% or R153 million of the total budget of R423 million is to go to this core ser­vice provided by the district municipality and will be effective in Howick, Mpofana, Richmond, Impendle, Mkhambathini and uMshwati.

The passing of the district budget made headlines two years ago when the municipality, which had been brought to its knees by the council at the time, did not have enough money to buy such basics as toilet paper. However, a new administration and a successful turnaround strategy have seen the municipality receive two clean audits in a row.

District Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee said the 2010/11 budget is aimed at continuing to improve the provision of water and sanitation. This includes the critical task of operations, maintenance and new infrastructure development in line with Municipal Infrastructure Grants.

Bhamjee said that during the past financial year, the municipality introduced its own billing system, and although there were teething problems, it managed to collect more than R19 million.

The aim in the new budget is to increase the collection rate to 60%. Bhamjee said the money will be used only for the upgrading and refurbishment of infrastructure and on the municipality’s capital expansion programme.

The mayor also highlighted water quality improvement as a major achievement. Municipal manager Sbu Khuzwayo said that, according to the Water Affairs Department’s water quality standards, (green and blue drop status), the municipality previously was last in the ranking at 21%. It has moved to an impressive 64,5% in the space of a year. Bhamjee said the aim is to continue improving as there can be no compromise on water quality.

Democratic Alliance councillor Sibongiseni Majola said his party opposes the budget on the grounds that there needs to be more information about the management of revenue and debt collection.

There is no information on income from other core functions, such as the district landfill sites, cemetries, the airport and from parking revenue at the district’s pro­perty in 176 Langalibalele Street, Majola added.

THE R426 million budget was increased marginally from R423 million last year.

Technical services will get R163,8 million, the municipal manager’s office R36,6 million, community services R46 milion, corporate services R35,7 million and financial services R21,8 million. — WR.

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