Budget raises more questions than answers

2017-06-07 06:02

LAST Friday’s special statutory Council meeting to pass the 2017/18 budget and IDP actually raised more questions than gave answers.

The Greytown Gazette did not attend the meeting. The agenda was received last week with the statement that the final draft budget annexures would be available on May 29. This did not happen and it was only tabled at the meeting, giving councillors no chance to really study it.

But according to the minutes of the Council meeting on March 31, the “budget” and not the draft had been approved at that meeting without due recognition, as in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).

This raises the huge query as to why then did the mayor, at vast expense (estimated R800 000) organise the total waste of money road show in Ward 12 to discuss the “draft” budget when it fact it had already been approved on March 31?

Furthermore, the vital questions for residents as to what the rates increases will be, as well as the electricity tariff increases (Nersa has recommended an eight percent increase) were not tabled or discussed. In terms of the MFMA, again the required procedures were not followed.

Having finally managed to obtain a copy of the budget, which apparently was again approved by Council without any alterations on May 31, the following is not only of interest, but should be of concern to ratepayers:

2017/18 revenue: R295 209 143,85

2017/18 expenditure: R332 202 980,84

The budget, it is hoped, is in the genuine interests of all Umvoti residents in terms of an improved quality of life. But there are items of expenditure which query this premise with the emphasis more on taking care of councillors than on service delivery, as can be seen from the following.

Entertainment:

A total of R520 340 is budgeted, which includes R240 000 councillors’ entertainment; R50 000 for the mayor; a drop for the municipal manager of R6 000 from last year to R42 460; R50 000 for technical no split, and the rest divided up between the departments.

Attire:

A total of R1 075 000 is budgeted: R200 000 for maidens’ attire (left out of this budget is a fascinating item in the 2015/2016 budget: “Maidens: Mayor and council full year forecast: R500 000!”); children’s attire: hats and tees for 500 at R12O each is R60 000; sports kits councillors and officials (to play what?) R200 000; sports kit participants R150 000; summer attire golf shirts and caps R250 000; summer attire golf shirt and caps Izikwama R60 000; widows aprons R15 000; women attire 500 at R120, R60 000; elderly R80 000.


Travel, accommodation:

A total of R1 198 679 is budgeted; this includes most of the departments but interestingly enough, neither the mayor nor the municipal manager feature in this travelling and accommodation budget. It is not possible that both of them will spend the year sitting in their offices so it would be interesting to find out under which items their costs are budgeted.

Consulting and professional fees:

A total of R14 327 958 has been budgeted.

Contractors:

Emphasis on entertainment, with a budget of R1 555 000, consisting of artist and performers: R420 000; motivational speaker: R50 000; marquees R300 000; picnic tables: R20 000; stage and sound crew: R760 0009 (hopefully local artists and crew are contracted).

Outsourced:

Legal fees, advice and litigation: R700 000; transport — taxis to and from wards presumably to mayoral road shows R735 000; event promoters R150 000; VIP set-up marquee: R335 000 plus R40 000 for another VIP set-up marquee (300 seater and five tents); catering services: R1 495 000 plus another three outsourced for R220 000; kids entertainment: R100 000.

To assist residents in assessing the budget, here is a reminder of the salaries paid to the office bearers of the Umvoti Council.

In terms of a Government Gazette, the Umvoti Mayor earns R758 912, speaker and deputy R696 419 per annum. All three receive a vehicle, cellphone and petrol allowance of up to R74 000 per month, out of pocket expenses of R1 739 per month, and in addition, the mayor receives a municipal house plus furniture, private study allowances, etc. Exco members earn R314 168 and councillors earn R228 481 per annum.

How many councillors and ratepayers actually studied the budget and queried any of the items?

How many ratepayers are going to pressurise their councillors and the municipality to publicise the rates and electricity tariff so they too can budget?

Or are the ratepayers just going to sit back, talk, protest and continue to subsidise and forget about the lack of housing, the lack of public toilets, the total lack of municipal transparency, the employment of security personnel, the purchase of vehicles and the lack of support of local enterprises, etc?

Having finally managed to obtain a copy
of the budget, which apparently was
again approved by Council without any
alterations on May 31, the following is not only of interest, but should be of concern
to ratepayers.

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