No surprises in council budget

2013-06-01 00:00

THERE were no surprises yesterday afternoon when the Msunduzi council passed its R3,2 billion budget and integrated development plan (IDP).

Of the total budget, R450 million was set aside for capital funding and R2,8 billion for operational costs. The budget showed that most of the money for capital projects comes from grant funding from national government, with an additional R60 million of council’s own money.

The bulk of the operational money (R1,4 billion or 44%) will go to the purchase of water and electricity. Part of the funds will be used to buy materials and vehicles.

The municipality did listen to national Treasury and increased its repairs and maintenance funding. In its draft budget it had originally proposed setting aside R189 million. However, after treasury’s intervention, the amount was increased to R317 million.

Tariffs remain the same: 10% hikes for water and electricity, with rates, refuse removal and sanitation costs going up by 5,5%.

In his budget address, which was read out by Deputy Mayor Thobani Zuma, Mayor Chris Ndlela noted that there were complaints about the charge for main circuit breakers and block tariffs. He said that regrettably the council was unable to factor these into the current budget.

“I have already instructed the municipal manager and the chief financial officer to work with the rates, tariffs and charges committee to look into this matter,” Ndlela said.

The Democratic Alliance did not accept the budget and was accused of politicking by the ANC because next year’s elections were around the corner.

DA budget spokesperson Mergan Chetty pointed to a number of errors in the IDP document, which he said amounted to a difference of R5 million.

Chetty tried to introduce an alternative budget. This was rejected by the ruling party, which refused to discuss it, saying the document should have been submitted earlier to be placed on the agenda.

The DA proposed lower water and electricity tariffs of between seven and eight percent, with some of the money ringfenced and used for repairs and maintenance.

It also rejected the optic fibre network capital project, which is set to cost R1,2 billion over 12 years.

Chetty said this was not a core service delivery item. He also noted that there was an absence of ward priority projects in the nine wards held by the DA.

Municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said that while he appreciated the comments raised by the DA, he believed these were not major issues.

“My considered view is that there are no fundamental flaws and the IDP and budget can be passed.”

The budget and IDP were put to the vote. The ANC, supported by the National Freedom Party and the Inkatha Freedom Party, approved the documents with 45 votes against the DA’s 13.


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