Municipal premises tariffs up by 875%

2011-07-05 00:00

THOSE running crèches in municipal halls around Pietermaritzburg may have to close shop after Msunduzi Municipality increased facilities tariffs by 875% for the 2011/12 financial year.

A woman who wished to remain unnamed said she has been operating her pre-school for 29 years as a community awareness project, which was opened by council. “Most of my children come from indigent households who survive on their grandparents’ pension fund, which is used to pay school fees, and they are from rural areas,” she said.

She said prior to the tariff increase they paid the municipality R45,60 including VAT per day to operate the pre-school, but now she has to fork out R400 per day. She will be paying more than R8 000 per month to use municipal premises.

“I charge R150 per child on a monthly basis and I have about 45 children who are part of my pre-school. With the kind of money that I am charging currently, I do not know what I will do on July 18 when schools open, because, if things stand as they do, we won’t be able to even afford paying the staff salaries,” she said.

She said if the municipality insists on the exorbitant increase the halls will become white elephants.

“Through my pre-school I have raised lawyers, accountants and various esteemed professionals that I am proud of, but I cannot continue with such good work for the community because community halls have become so expensive to rent that they are no different from private halls,” she said.

She said they were not notified in time to make prior arrangements as they were only told of the increase on June 17.

Municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said the municipality is working on its turnaround strategy. “Among other issues that are dealt with in this regard, is the use of municipal facilities, which includes municipal halls. Maintaining facilities comes at a hefty cost to the municipality, and we were losing a lot of money because of almost free use of these facilities,” Zuma said.

He denied that those affected were not notified timeously, saying notices of the new tariffs were put up in public council offices, libraries and satellite offices on May 30.

Zuma also said an advert on the matter went out in The Witness on June 2, and it was posted on the municipal website.

“The budget, which included new tariffs, was passed by council recently and it has therefore become official for the 2011/2012 financial year,” he said.

“We want to make sure that community halls are made available for community events and they would be paid for in order for us to recoup expenses incurred as a result of the use.”

He said the indigent policy is applicable in terms of services like water and electricity, as well as rates, but is not relevant in this case.

“As a municipality we are a provider of services, which must be paid for, and that includes municipal facilities,” he added.

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