Msunduzi tariff hikes kept tight

2014-05-31 00:00

THE Msunduzi Municipality’s R4,5 billion budget was passed yesterday, with tariff increases kept to single-digit figures.

Embattled Edendale and Imbali residents will benefit from R10 million set aside to build a fly-over bridge in Burger Street, while the repairs and maintenance budget was increased by 71%.

Mayor Chris Ndlela said the money would be used to refurbish roads, fix potholes and ensure storm water maintenance. In addition, more would be done to maintain social and sports facilities.

Rates, sanitation, refuse and general tariffs go up by 5,6%, electricity by 7,39% — the amount recommended by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) — and water by 8,7%, an amount set by Umgeni Water.

Four billion rand of the overall budget is set aside for operating costs and R513,8 million for capital expenditure. Expected revenue from tariff and services charges is calculated at R2,7 billion, while property rates are expected to contribute R659 million.

Ndlela acknowledged that people were paying heavily for municipal services and that they needed to get value for money. He said Msunduzi would be run like a business, where the customer was king.

Ndlela appealed to management to “shape up or ship out”. He said the municipality was under tremendous pressure to deliver services and he was concerned about ongoing billing challenges. “It is not acceptable for people to wait for long periods to have their queries attended to,” said Ndlela.

He added that his office would work closely with that of the municipal manager to improve efficiency in municipal services.

DA councillor Bill Lambert noted that Ndlela had used his favourite quote: “shape up or ship out”. “It remains a legendary quote from one of our former municipal managers, who himself was shipped out,” Lambert said.

The DA did not endorse the budget, saying they had only received the documents at the meeting. The party’s Dave Ryder said they should have received the documents two days before to ensure there were no major changes from the draft document.

“Our obligation to our constituents is to ensure that we play our oversight role and are absolutely happy with the final document,” he said.

ANC councillors protested, saying it was exactly the same document that all councillors had been working with for the past two weeks.

The budget was eventually passed by an ANC majority.

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