Msunduzi offers ratepayers a chance to earn brownie points

2013-06-21 00:00

REMEMBER the days when teachers rewarded good work with silver and gold stars?

Well those days may be back courtesy of the Msunduzi Municipality, which wants to rate residents who pay their bills.

Exemplary residents who settle their accounts promptly will have their statements decorated with silver and gold stars.

A letter of thanks may also be included, with the possibility of prizes up for grabs.

And like school, those who go astray will be in for a rough ride.

The municipality plans on blacklisting non-payers with credit bureaus and using legal action to recover revenue.

These steps are part of a strategy to bring in more money for the municipality, and were adopted by the Executive Committee yesterday.

The plan follows proposals for austerity measures adopted last week.

Municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said the municipality needed to collect R250 million a month to deliver services.

The good news was that the new debt-collection measures recognised there were many mistakes on the municipal database.

So before pursuing debtors, there would be a thorough analysis of accounts to ensure accuracy and proper contact details.

These checks would also lead to a correction of the debtors’ book and could lead to a reduction in the amount that is stated as outstanding.

When the municipality was under administration, there was a debt collection strategy in place called Operation Pitbull. However, it annoyed many residents as it was felt that there were inaccuracies in their bills that had not been checked before the municipality went after them.

The municipality has outstanding debt of just over R1 billion.

The recovery strategy has divided debtors into sections. Officials will start by pursuing the top 100 accounts, representing those who owe more than R50 000. After six months, the next group of 100 debtors will be tackled.

Further, databases will be cleaned up, inactive accounts scrutinised and the debt collection system automated.

Nkosi said the management of the debt was still done manually, with outdated technology and cumbersome administrative processes.

The strategy would devise ways of promoting payment, such as offering incentive schemes to encourage residents to move up the ladder from the bottom blue star, through to grey, bronze and finally the top rankings of silver and gold.

Consumer education would also be part of the deal, with campaigns encouraging people to pay.

Slogans that will be used include: “You want delivery — deliver your payment at your local municipal offices”; “With great power comes great responsibility” and “Paying for municipal services not only puts the power in your hands, but also in your home”.


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