eThekwini metro gets largest ever budget

2012-05-31 00:00

ETHEKWINI’S bosses will have a R31,8 billion war chest to spend in the next year after the metro’s largest ever budget was tabled at yesterday’s special council meeting.

Political parties found a few gripes with the numbers, chief among them the increase in tariffs and service charges.

The municipality restricted some price hikes to single digits, with rates and sanitation going up by 6,5% each, and refuse collection rising by seven percent.

But water and electricity will again hurt residents the most. Homeowners will pay 11% more for their power from July 1, but still less than Eskom’s proposed hike of 13,5%.

The same applies to water, which is bought by the municipality from Umgeni Water in bulk. Umgeni will hike its prices by 17,2%, while eThekwini has limited its increase to 12,5% for residential consumers and 15,5% for businesses.

The DA commended municipal officials for their efforts in containing these increases, but slammed a bad debt amount of R2,55 billion.

In contrast, Mayor James Nxumalo praised his staff for a clean audit for the last financial year and declared himself satisfied with the municipality’s finances.

Nxumalo said: “The city is in a sound financial position.”

Nxumalo mostly stuck to positive sentiments in his speech, but acknowledged the problems in the housing department.

He deviated from his speech to remark that he had personally put pressure on senior housing managers to pull their socks up.

Relief for indigent households will come in the form of a rates rebate increase for pensioners, disability grantees and child-headed families from R211 a month to R259.

All properties valued under R250 000 will continue to get nine free kilolitres of water a month while the fixed water charge falls away completely.

Other concessions were granted to homes using less than 150 kWh of electricity a month, whose owners will get the first 65 kWh free. And again, those with properties valued less than R250 000 will get free refuse collection.

The DA and Minority Front voted against the budget, which was adopted after votes in favour from the ANC and other opposition parties.

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