Umdoni lowers rates rise

2011-03-23 00:00

THE 2011 budget presentation by the Umdoni Municipality in Scottburgh last week was markedly more good-tempered than the one in April 2010, when the tone was acrimonious.

The atmosphere on Wednesday was remarkably friendly in all respects, but whether this was because of unanimity over the report or because the opposition did not bother to attend, was difficult to judge.

Attendance this year for the joint presentation (with Ugu District Municipality) was even lower than last year. Not a single opposition councillor was to be seen and half the audience were municipal employees.

In 2010, an average rates increase of eight percent drew considerable criticism, whereas this year the targeted average of six percent was received without comment. There was also no comment on what many property owners have regarded as a punitive and unauthorised rand rateage on vacant property, now up to 0,02079%, which raised hackles a year ago.

The municipality is sticking to its guns over the inclusion of capital grants in the operating budget, with R39 279 million featuring in the 2011/2012 budget. Some opposition councillors insist that this practice is neither acceptable nor supported by the provincial treasury, but it remains a somewhat academic issue to the average citizen.

The Ugu budget was presented without much comment in spite of above-average increases of 9,9% in both water provision and sanitation, coupled, according to the report, with a generous capital injection programme.

Salaries are bone of contention for both municipalities. Ugu reported a 6,08% increase in salaries for both officials and councillors.

Given the current water supply and sanitation problems in parts of the middle South Coast, the good news was a budget of R6,5 million for sanitation in Pennington and a budget of R14 million for sanitation at Malangeni. Water projects of R27 million in Vulamehlo and R15 million in Tho-yane were also budgeted for.

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