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Punish the Taxpayer, Reward the Politicians

09 June 2014, 09:52
Is this happening in your town too?

R610.9million - that's what it takes to run Knysna. Thank goodness for taxpayers. Well, not really. It takes provincial and national cash too. Oh, wait, YOU contribute to that too. And let's not forget Knysna's pesky loans which you, thankfully, may not have to pay back because YOUR children will. The point is that the budget figure should ram home the fact that who you elect, and how you keep them accountable, is very important.

Mayor Georlene Wolmarans has issued a press release on the Knysna Municipality's website that isn't remotely as interesting (and as boring) as reading the incredibly thick report handed to Council. I share with you a few pointers from Grant Easton's budget (he's the Director of Finance who earns almost R1.4million per year, one of 6 people earning more than a million).

"The buoyancy of the tax base is the main determinant of the affordability of new infrastructure development. Long term financial modelling shows a financial shortfall of R1billion over the next 15 years." Are they're saying that there will be a R67million shortfall every year regards fixing our pipes, water pumps, roads and the arterial growth of our town etc. ?

That "tax base" means "YOU", the ratepayer. Your increased rates, tariffs and charges are:

- Rates: 7%
- Refuse: 8% (heading to 10% in (2015/16)
- Water: 7%
- Sewer: 8%
- Electricity: 7.39%

Have no doubt that the Knysna Munciplaity has skills because their collection rate of 94% would be the envy of most municipalities in South Africa. The problem is that most people i know have less money now than they did last year. I am one of those people.

Where does your money go? Here's some of it:

- Another R4million grant to Knysna Tourism despite no one being punished for the financial disaster they experienced.

- R173.7million will go to municipal staff with permanent positions getting an increase of 6.85% (they're planning to give them 11.1% next year).

- The 18 Councillors will share R6.7million (all isn't fair in love and politics but that's approximately R32000p/m each). That's 46% more cash for councillors than was paid 4 years ago.

If you're in the middle income range, you were paying R1563 towards rates and services in the 2010/2011 financial year. Now, 4 years later, you're paying R2366.50. That's an R800 increase.

Getting a job in local government remains the biggest game in our small town of only 68 000 people.

There is no resident that will take Knysna Municipality's commitment to austerity seriously until they accept the struggles most are facing... and appropriately freeze local government salaries.
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