Rates rise of 7,5% planned

2011-04-11 00:00

THE Hibiscus Coast Municipality (HCM) held a special executive committee (exco) meeting on Thursday to refine the draft budget for 2011/2012 before it is presented to the public for input.

This followed the council’s provisional approval of the draft annual operational budget of over R530 million and a capital budget of over R204 million at its last meeting. That meeting had revealed technical errors in aspects of increases, and the council had delegated its powers to the special exco to rectify them.

At Thursday’s meeting it was announced that the operating expenditure budget provides for an increase of six percent for salaries and allowances for employees and councillors. The municipality has budgeted R222 million, which reflects 42% of the operating budget for the upcoming financial year.

HCM Mayor Nolwazi Shusha presented a projected rate increase of 7,5%, an overall tariff increase of seven percent and refuse tariff increase of eight percent.

General expenses will increase by 17,9% from some R195 million to R230 million.

“A provision has been made — for repayments on a loan of R55 million — that has raised infrastructure development in the current financial year,” said Shusha.

“A provision for depreciation has been made at R46 million for future replacement of capital assets.”

Indigent relief has been allocated R3,3 million while R6 million has been set aside for free basic electricity. The overall proposed municipal budget now sits at over R735 million.

Democratic Alliance councillor Dave Rawlins commented that the rate increase of 7,5% is unacceptable and unfair to ratepayers. He said that the National Treasury requires an explanation of any increase above six percent.

Inkatha Freedom Party councillor Robin Piper concurred: “We need to reduce the rates increase to six percent; we need to reduce expenditure and increase revenue,” said Rawlins. “The municipality is employing too many staff.”

Municipal manager Sbu Mkhize explained that the increases in rates and salaries are intended to meet the rising costs of running the municipality.

The ANC felt content with a 7,5% rate increase and recommended that the budget be adopted and accepted for presentation to the public for their comments.

Councillor Ronnie Nair of the ANC said, “We don’t know what the members of the public will say, so let us accept the budget and present it to the community for their representations before we can make any changes on it.”

His motion was seconded by councillor Doctor Njoko.

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